Contact: Joe Carr at (207) 581-3571; Alan Parks, 581-1236
ORONO–When managers of Maine government’s websites needed help using specialized software to make their websites accessible to all users, they turned to The University of Maine’s Howard Mosher, UM Webmaster, and Alan Parks, coordinator of dissemination and technology at the Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies and chair of UMaine’s Subcommittee on Universal Design for the Web. In early December, Mosher and Parks conducted a session for 5 of the state’s Web and network managers, training them on the use of Hiawatha Software Company’s AccVerify Professional software.
Both the university and the state of Maine use AccVerify to check and repair websites so that they are fully accessible according to the federal government’s “Section 508″ guidelines. websites that are accessible benefit all users, whether they have disabilities or not, but inaccessible websites may keep some users from being able to read some of the content. Since the university has been using AccVerify for many months, it seemed natural for the state Web managers to turn to UMaine for help.
After the workshop, Parks noted, “The state Web managers left feeling that AccVerify would be a great tool for all state Webmasters to use. It’s clear that it will help the state achieve full Web accessibility quickly.”
The same holds true for UMaine, which has a self-imposed deadline of April 2005 to make all of its sites accessible. The University’s Universal Design for the Web Subcommittee will conduct trainings for anyone at the university on Jan. 6 and Feb. 3. They will cover the elements of universal design for the Web and the use of AccVerify, which is a free tool for anyone who works on university websites.
More information about universal design for the Web and the training session is available at: www.umaine.edu/insider/accessibility.