Gale's Electronic Product Accessibility Policy (ADA Compliance) Updated Dec. 8, 2008
Gale has made it a priority to offer equivalent access to its online products for persons with disabilities and comply with the Priority 1 and 2 Checklists designated by the World Wide Web Consortium (www.w3.org). As we continue to expand and develop our online collection of products, Gale will make every effort to meet the needs of persons with disabilities.
The term "accessible" indicates that a Web application can be used as effectively by disabled users as those without a disability. This applies generally to people who are blind or have low vision or color blindness, people who are deaf or hard of hearing, people with speech disabilities, people with physical disabilities and motor impairments, and people with cognitive or neurological disabilities (e.g., epilepsy).
About 10 percent of the U.S. population have a severe disability, and 20 percent have some level of disability. The statistics go up as the population gets older. Many of these people must use assistive technology (e.g., screen readers, which read the contents of a Web page to a visually impaired user) to access information on the Web. Assistive technology only works well when the site being used is well structured and designed. Gale wants to meet the needs of these customers.
Understanding Section 508
Section 508 is part of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, which are part of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. The Workforce Investment Act requires that federal agencies purchase and use products and information that are as accessible to disabled employees as to non-disabled employees. Section 508, and its implementing regulations (see http://www.section508.gov), list requirements that must be met to label a product or service "accessible" (and thus available for purchase by a federal government agency).
Regulations and Standards Used by the Government to Assess "Accessibility"
Section 508 and its implementing regulations contain specific guidelines for "web-based intranet and internet information and applications. " A Web Page Accessibility Questionnaire for Component Web Contracts is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/508/web.htm; this questionnaire is being used by federal agencies to gauge their progress toward full accessibility.
The federal government's Section 508 guidelines for Web pages roughly correspond to "Priority 1" checkpoints of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0, which are available at http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WAI-WEBCONTENT-19990505, published by the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). See 36 CFR § 1194.22 note. The Section 508 standards add some additional requirements, and if a vendor meets these requirements, they can assure federal agencies that they are purchasing an "accessible" product.
Gale product accessibility
Gale is working hard to get completely compliant. Since Gale publishes content from such a wide variety of reference sources and periodicals, it is difficult to address the tagging and mark-up of every document. We are working toward a standard, accessible interface design, with a goal of making our content meet all the accessibility standards.
Gale is Improving the Accessibility of Its Products
We consistently test new products using Cast's accessibility assessment tool ("Bobby") and we evaluate our new interfaces and products using the JAWS screen reader as well. Gale was present at the National Institute of Standards and Technology's "Accessibility 2001" conference in Gaithersburg, Maryland, to learn about accessibility design, Section 508, and how best to comply with these new regulations.
Accessibility Guidelines Currently Met by Gale Products
Gale is committed to addressing the following Access Board standards under Section 508, along with the functional and informational standards set out by the Access Board (36 C.F.R. §§ 1194.31 - 1194.32):
- A text equivalent for every non-text element is provided (e.g., via an "alt" tag or in element content). 36 CFR § 1194.22(a).
Note: Because of the processes we use to aggregate such large volumes of data, we have been unable to hand code highly specific alt text for each image. Meaningful alt text has been added to all elements of the interface. Descriptive titles and/or captions are already available for the images in some products, and more generic alt text is used in the cases where data must be updated via batch processing. As products come up for release and renewal, issues regarding the addition of more meaningful TITLE and ALT tags to content will be addressed.
- Web pages are designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup. 36 § 1194.22(c). Users can understand/navigate products without the ability to identify a color or differentiate between certain colors.
- Documents are organized so they are readable without requiring a style sheet. 36 C.F.R. § 1194.22(d).
- Gale rarely uses image maps. WAI guidelines will be followed if the need arises. 36 C.F.R. § 1194(e) and (f).
- Gale products do not use frames. 36 C.F.R. § 1194(i). If frames are required in the future, they will be titled with text to facilitate frame identification and navigation.
- Pages are designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz. 36 C.F.R. § 1194(j).
- Electronic forms are designed to be completed online, allowing people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including directions and cues. 36 C.F.R. § 1194(n).
- When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required. 36 C.F.R. § 1194.22(p).
Accessibility Issues Scheduled to be Addressed by Gale Products in Upcoming Releases:
- Each product will have a mechanism allowing users to skip repetitive navigation links. 36 C.F.R. § 1194.22(o).
- When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall also be made available with functional text that can be read by assistive technology. 36 C.F.R. § 1194.22(l).
- 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 will provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with Section 508 requirements §1194.21(a) through (l). 36 C.F.R. § 1194.22(m).
- Some of our products consist entirely of PDF files, which are not generated in-house. PDF files generated in-house will be created to meet, wherever possible, federal guidelines for accessible PDF display. In addition, Gale will provide a mechanism for requesting the text equivalent of documents that are presented only in PDF. 36 C.F.R. § 1194.22(k).
Long-term Accessibility Goals:
Because of Gale's role as an electronic publisher and content aggregator, there are some guidelines we cannot follow as readily as smaller companies that generate their own content. We will continue to look for ways to address the following issues, but cannot guarantee that every Gale product will become fully compliant with these guidelines.
- Transcription/description of multimedia. Because of the large volume of data and the way in which multimedia files are processed, we cannot guarantee comprehensive implementation of these guidelines. Products such as the electronic Resource Centers will comply on an individual basis, when possible, except for periodical data. InfoTrac and other products using periodical data process too much volume too quickly to annotate all images/media as they arrive. If a user requires a specific piece of information, a mechanism for requesting that information will be provided.
- If/when audio and text transcripts for multimedia are made available, they will be synchronized with the presentation. 36 C.F.R. § 1194.22(b).
- Row and column header shall be identified for data tables. For data generated in-house, we will implement the correct mark-up procedures. However, for tabular data that arrives as part of large batches of data (included in an article, etc.), the information must remain in its original format. If a user requires a specific piece of information included in such a table, a mechanism for requesting that information will be provided. 36 C.F.R. § 1194.22(g) and (k).
- Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of rows and headers. For content generated in-house, we can try to implement these mark-up guidelines. A mechanism will be provided to request the data. 36 C.F.R. § 1194(h) and (k).
- We will not be offering a text-only version of our electronic products in the near future. The possibility will be examined for long-term adoption, depending on our ability (or inability) to satisfactorily comply with the requirements noted above. Consistent with the Access Board standards, 36 C.F.R. § 1194.22(k), we will seek to provide content in other than text-only pages.