Agencies Need Evolving Tools to Make Multimedia Accessible
Meeting Section 508 requirements is aided by a burgeoning interest in web multimedia today. The explosion in video content has come with a dramatic rise in subtitled or closed-captioned content. Websites such as statetechmagazine.com support an audio capability that can read stories to visitors. These applications demonstrate a certain elegance in the implementation of Section 508 technologies: When deployed appropriately, they can provide a convenience to everyone, particularly people on the go.
From the start, developers of government websites must adopt the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines promulgated by the WC3 Web Accessibility Initiative. The guidelines provide a single shared standard that supports content accessible to everyone. The guidelines stipulate some content planning input (is media presented in a logical flow?) as well as technical considerations (are colors and contrast set at acceptable measures?).
Augmented and Virtual Reality Can Enhance Accessibility
Government may be playing catch-up with digital presence in many cases, but in other cases, agencies will find cutting-edge communication to be the new normal. As state and local governments get swept up in enthusiasm for artificial intelligence, they may find appeal in augmented reality or virtual reality content for their constituencies. Imagine travelers being able to see overlays describing subway delays or witness virtual representations of traffic congestion.
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation calls on governments to serve as early adopters of inclusive augmented reality and virtual reality.
As the ITIF says, equity and inclusion specifications will vary among use cases for public services. However, the foundation endorses recommendations applicable to all accessibility approaches. First, gather input from the affected community. Second, integrate universal design principles. Third, look at factors beyond devices or applications, such as what can be done to close the digital divide.
By embracing these ideals, agencies can provide for all citizens with a bridge to the future.