The Kansas Partnership for Accessible Technology (KPAT) exists to assist state organizations in ensuring the accessible design of information technology, in order that access to online services is equitable and inclusive for everyone, including people with disabilities. The primary policy driver of accessibility for state web properties is the State of Kansas Web Accessibility Requirements (ITEC Policy 1210), which was established in 2000 by the Information Technology Executive Council, and is maintained with advisory input from the KPAT. It sets accessibility standards for all external and internal web sites and applications for the state. Compliance with this policy is critical in the planning, procurement, design, and deployment of web-based services.
Ensuring compliance requires evaluation, and while direct, manual assessment is possible, the sheer amount of web content makes it unfeasible to rely on this alone. In order to effectively deal with the volume of information made available online by state agencies and organizations, automated assistance is required. Assessment software can spider through web sites to quickly identify problems and produce reports complete with actionable information listing the violations and the pages on which they occur, as well as provide statistical analyses useful for prioritizing and planning remediation efforts.
With this in mind, the KPAT selected, through a competitive bidding process, and used grant funding from the Information Network of Kansas to purchase access to the Accessibility Management Platform (AMP) from Level Access. This tool provides the capability to assess the current state of compliance with state accessibility standards and track compliance success over time. Evaluation with such an automated software tool is consistent and repeatable, and the results are quantified, facilitating aggregation and comparability. In addition, AMP includes ample resources for educating staff about the requirements and the technical details of their implementation.With this procurement, AMP is freely available to all State of Kansas employees, contractors, and vendors that are working on State of Kansas projects. It is being offered to developers, content authors, et al., in agencies and organizations throughout the state, in hopes that it will be a valuable resource in more effectively and expeditiously producing accessible web content. The set of tools provided by AMP are flexible and scalable enough to provide for everything from a quick accessibility check of a single web page to a large-scale sitewide accessibility audit, so it is hoped that developers will be able to find many ways to comfortably and beneficially integrate it into their workflows.
As advantageous as automated testing is, it is important to recognize that many accessibility requirements are sufficiently subjective in nature that human evaluation must remain an essential component of a comprehensive assessment strategy. (For more information, see Automated Testing Tool Limitations.) Software tools and human evaluators each have their strengths and weaknesses, and so the best approach is to use both, each complementing the other. Fortunately, though AMP of course cannot perform manual testing, it does facilitate it with a supporting framework.
AMP is one important piece of the ongoing, overall effort to ensure the accessibility of IT resources in the state of Kansas, the importance of which only grows as state agencies move increasingly toward the electronic delivery of services to our citizens.