The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) is committed to providing equivalent access to its Web site (http://www.hesc.ny.gov) to persons with disabilities. For that purpose, HESC has established this Web accessibility policy in conformity with New York State Technology Policies P08-005. HESC's policy applies to all Web-based information, services or transactions developed and maintained directly by the agency, or any consultants/vendors who develop Web sites or content for a HESC Web site, effective Feb. 28, 2001.
What is Accessibility?Accessibility means all HESC customers with disabilities have access to Web-based information and data comparable to the access given to customers who do not have disabilities. This is achieved by implementing the concept of "universal design." Web sites developed to meet "universal design" guidelines are accessible to as many visitors as possible. Such sites are accessible to individuals using a variety of browsers, text-only browsers, slow modems, no audio output, and to people using assistive technologies to access the Internet. The text used throughout the Web site is clear and simple, and the mechanisms for navigating within and among pages are understandable.
ImplementationHESC will apply the most current version of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Accessibility Guidelines in the design, creation and maintenance of its Web site content and all transactions that rely on Web browsers for content presentation. HESC's Web content and transactions will conform with level "A," satisfying all priority one checkpoints, unless an "undue hardship" would be imposed on the agency. An "undue hardship" is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as a significant difficulty or expense incurred by a covered entity. It refers to any accommodation that would be unduly costly, extensive, substantial, or disruptive, or that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business.
Accessibility LiaisonHESC's director of corporate relations and internet initiatives is responsible for implementing technology policies 96-13 and 99-3. The accessibility liaison is responsible for disseminating the W3C Guidelines and subsequent updates to appropriate agency staff and any consultants or vendors who develop Web sites and/or content for HESC. The liaison is also responsible for monitoring and approving Web content to ensure materials posted are accessible.
Accessibility ContactYou can contact HESC with your accessibility questions and comments, or to report any portion of the agency Web site that you may have difficulty accessing, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For a quicker response, please write “accessibility” in the subject line of your e-mail, and indicate the nature of your accessibility problem, the preferred format in which to receive the material, the Web address of the requested material, the Web browser you are using, and your contact information in the body of the e-mail.
HESC will try to provide published documents in a usable format to citizens with disabilities.
Progress to-DateThe HESC Web site provides a text-only version of the home page, and visitors are able to view most of the site’s content using any browser. Older browsers, however, may not work with some of the agency’s Web applications.
HESC has taken steps to make all of its Web site content and applications as accessible as possible. Such steps include:
Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) Document Version:An HTML version of most documents available on the HESC Web site in the portable document format (PDF) is provided. Staff are developing an HTML version of the last PDF document that still does not have an HTML equivalent version. The agency is taking steps to make forms and reports generated by existing applications accessible.
Alternative Text: Text descriptions are provided for non-text contents, including images, pictures, image map regions, animations, applets and programmatic objects, ASCII art, frames, scripts, and images used as list bullets, spacers, and graphical buttons used on the Web site. These descriptions allow visitors using screen readers to access information provided by images and pictures.
Multi Browser Testing:HESC is testing all new applications with several old and new browsers to make sure users are not blocked from using the applications. The agency will make sure the new applications are accessible with all major browsers being used by its Web site visitors, including America On-Line (AOL), Internet Explorer and Netscape.
Staff Training: HESC staff have attended several training sessions offered by the State Office for Technology (OFT) and others on how to develop accessible Web sites. As needed, HESC will hire consultants to make Web applications accessible.
Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and HESC Contracts:All requests for proposals issued and contracts signed by HESC require consultants/vendors who develop any Web site content and applications that rely on Web browsers for content presentation meet the latest version of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Accessibility Guidelines.
Style Guide: A style guide is being developed to provide consistency throughout the HESC Web site, and to ensure all Web content meets W3C guidelines. Upon approval, the guide will be distributed to all appropriate staff.
Older Applications: Some HESC applications produce Web content that is not accessible. Over the next year, HESC will make most of its unaccessible Web site content accessible. However, if the transformation of selected content would create an “undue hardship” to the agency, HESC will wait until a more reasonable set of tools becomes available to make that content accessible.