Letters to the editor
In an April 12 FlipSide item, you noted the American Association of Political Consultants' Web awards, including one given to Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.) for best congressional Web site. Given your "Making government accessible — online" cover story in the following week's issue, it may be of interest that a quick check of Boozman's congressional site finds numerous violations of Section 508 accessibility rules.
We still have a long way to go to make everyone, including those who bestow Web site awards, aware of accessibility requirements for the Web.
Meeting the Challenge Inc.
I am responding to the editorial and article about Section 508 accessibility in the April 19 issue of Federal Computer Week.
There is no question that there is a clear distinction between accessibility and usability, as the article suggests. However, without implementing human factors and usability engineering as a discipline into design of Web applications — or any software application, for that matter — accessibility can never be as effective as it can and should be.
I am convinced that most customers have no idea that there is a distinct and clear engineering process that deals specifically with human behavior and computer systems. There are procedures and methods for performing usability tests that are not included in functional or performance tests, unless they are required by the contract. As a result, in requests for proposals or task order requisitions, the customer does not identify usability requirements with system and functional requirements.
We continue to see poorly designed Web sites, many never making it beyond the first field placement. Many disgruntled people assume that software is too sophisticated or complex for the average person to master easily and quickly. Figuring out how to use the computer can become a full-time job, when the computer should play a supporting role for the user's real job: accomplishing business tasks.
Linda T. Giammattei
Senior Systems Engineer, Human Factors Specialist
Computer Sciences Corp.
Your recent online survey question "Are you paying your taxes electronically this year?" is flawed. Generally, e-filing assumes a refund. If users must pay, they'll probably do it through the regular mail. I've e-filed since I was a young lieutenant at Fort Hood, Texas, in the early 1980s, but have filed the regular paper copies any time I owed money.
The March 15 edition of FCW included an article, "No legacy systems for this Army, thank you very much," that describes how Army officials recently mandated that military commands use Microsoft Corp. Windows 2000 or newer operating platforms by 2005. U.S. Army Medical Command (Medcom) is hoping other commands will follow its lead when upgrading their operating systems.
Since 2002, the U.S. Army Medical Information Technology Center (USAMITC) has been working with
Medcom to upgrade its platform to Windows Server 2003 with Active Directory and Exchange 2004 by the end of this year, which is
well ahead of the Army's objectives and timelines.
USAMITC provides IT system health solutions for Medcom, which comprises the Army's medical treatment facilities and commands.
Using one operating system throughout the command will simplify the support environment, reduce the number of servers and lower operating costs primarily through the e-mail system upgrade from Exchange 5.5 to 2003. Medcom has hundreds of e-mail servers spread across the enterprise at each medical facility. The
e-mail upgrade will consolidate these servers into seven global message centers, which will increase server security and enhance e-mail availability for more than 65,000 users in the command.
As for Active Directory, the service will also make Medcom's job easier by allowing its systems administrators to easily track and use all objects
attached to the network, such as servers, printers, workstations and users. In addition, USAMITC will be able to centrally and remotely manage and secure command server systems to ensure that security administration policies are followed across the enterprise.
Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
Fort Sam Houston, Texas