Conn. strengthens access standards

Connecticut has adopted stricter accessibility standards to ensure that disabled citizens can access the state's World Wide Web page. The state aims to have all its agencies in compliance by Jan. 1, 2002.

The Department of Information Technology will incorporate the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 to all pages associated with the state site, ConneCT. W3C was created in 1994 to develop common standards and protocols for the Web.

W3C's standards, recognized as the leading accessibility guidelines, replace a patchwork set of standards instituted when Connecticut launched its site in 1996, said Nuala Forde, the IT department's communications director. She said the stricter standards were adopted because "it's the right thing to do."

"If more and more states are going to use their Web site to serve and interact with citizens, this is not going to be an option — it has to be done," she said.

The ConneCT Management Advisory Committee, which manages the state site, adopted the standards at the end of last month. Under the initiative, agency Webmasters will first be trained about how to apply the standards, Forde said.

The announcement comes as federal agencies are working to meet accessibility guidelines under Section 508. Forde said the state was following the federal government's lead in setting stricter standards.

More information about the implementation of the new initiative can be found at www.cmac.state.ct.us/access.

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