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Iowa State Web Accessibility Laws

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    The Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) in Iowa is committed to ensuring all governmental websites comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

    Section 508 is a Federal requirement to make online information equally accessible to individuals with disabilities. The law lays out standards that all Federal electronic and information technology must follow. It was recently refreshed to include WCAG 2.0 standards.

    While Section 508 applies to Federal agencies, many states have adopted “little 508s,” such as Iowa.

    Iowa’s Accessibility Statement asserts:

      “Section 508 requires that when Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, Federal employees with disabilities have access and use of information and data that is comparable to the access and use by Federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency.

      Although not required by regulation or law, the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) seeks to bring State of Iowa Web-sites into basic compliance with Section 508 code. To achieve compliance with the Section 508 Standard, you need to adhere to Paragraphs A thru P of Section (1194.22).”

    Who does Iowa’s accessibility policy apply to?

    All state agencies, boards or commissions, and contractors who maintain and develop websites are required to “give employees and members of the public with disabilities access to website information that is comparable to the access available to others.”

    Web content developed after August 10, 2012, is expected to comply with the web accessibility standards laid out by the State. The Chief of Information of the State of Iowa or a designee will determine if the agency is compliant with the standards laid out.

    Iowa’s Web Accessibility Standards

    The purpose of Iowa’s web accessibility standards is to make online content accessible to “the widest possible audience including people with disabilities.” It was adopted on February 10, 2012, and it is updated every two years. The last revision took place on May 1, 2017.

    The Iowa Website Accessibility Standard states:

    • “Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended will supersede and replace this standard in cases where agencies have in place funding agreements with the Federal Government requiring websites be Section 508 compliant.”
    • “The State of Iowa has adopted all Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 levels A and AA as Iowa’s standard for website accessibility.”
    • Any contractors working on an Iowa government website must comply with the standards outlined. They must have a written acknowledgment that they will meet these standards, and the department receiving these services must audit the services to ensure they comply with Iowa’s standards.
    • Websites have to pass a scan tool that uses WCAG level A and AA standards, and a WCAG HTML validator (like WAVE) with zero accessibility errors.

    Complying with the standards

    In order to meet the standards set by Iowa, websites must comply with Section 508 standards. All website must adhere to paragraphs A thru P of Section 1194.22.

    The nine standards state:

    • (a) A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via “alt”, “longdesc”, or in element content).
    • (b) Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation.
    • (c) Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup.
    • (d) Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet.
    • (e) Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map.
    • (f) Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape.
    • (g) Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables.
    • (h) Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers.
    • (i) Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation.
    • (j) Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.
    • (k) A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of these standards, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes.
    • (l) When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology.
    • (m) When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with §1194.21(a) through (l).
    • (n) When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues.
    • (o) A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.
    • (p) When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.

    For more details on each standard, please visit Access Board’s Guide to Section 508 Standards.

    Multimedia & Audio:

    In accordance with the Section 508 standard B, all multimedia, such as videos and recorded presentations, needs to include captions. If a video has a speaker, synchronized captions are required so that a viewer can watch along with the video. Live audio and video also needs to be captioned.

    If a file is only audio, a text transcript is required. If a presentation is silent, then no transcript or captioning is required, but “alt” text is required for any graphics.

    The provision also states, “Captioning for the audio portion and audio description of visual information of multimedia presentations are considered equivalent alternatives.”

    Variance and waivers

    Request for variance/waivers can be submitted to the Office of the Chief Information Office, cio@iowa.gov.

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    Learn About Other U.S. State Accessibility Laws

    Click on the map below to learn more about captioning and web accessibility laws in other states.


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