Section 508 – Accessibility Standard
In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual’s ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. 794d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others.
Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications (1194.22)
The criteria for web-based technology and information are based on access guidelines developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium. Many of these provisions ensure access for people with vision impairments who rely on various assistive products to access computer-based information, such as screen readers, which translate what’s on a computer screen into automated audible output, and refreshable Braille displays. Certain conventions, such as verbal tags or identification of graphics and format devices, like frames, are necessary so that these devices can “read” them for the user in a sensible way. The standards do not prohibit the use of web site graphics or animation. Instead, the standards aim to ensure that such information is also available in an accessible format. Generally, this means use of text labels or descriptors for graphics and certain format elements. (HTML code already provides an “Alt Text” tag for graphics which can serve as a verbal descriptor for graphics). This section also addresses the usability of multimedia presentations, image maps, style sheets, scripting languages, applets and plug-ins, and electronic forms.
The standards apply to Federal web sites but not to private sector web sites (unless a site is provided under contract to a Federal agency, in which case only that web site or portion covered by the contract would have to comply). Accessible sites offer significant advantages that go beyond access. For example, those with “text-only” options provide a faster downloading alternative and can facilitate transmission of web-based data to cell phones and personal digital assistants.
How has SAP Contributed ?
SAP Accessibility Competence Center (ACC) works as part of the User Experience department to:
– Define SAP internal Product Standard according to legislation and industrial standard like WCAG
– Ensure that SAP products meet the SAP Standard where technically and economically feasible
– Inform SAP development communities about techniques for creating accessible applications with SAP NetWeaver
– Define technical infrastructure
– Promote the proliferation of accessibility design in SAP development communities
– Participate in international accessibility committees
– Cooperate with corporate leaders in IT accessibility
– Cooperate with vendors of assistive technology
– Work with organizations committed to making software accessible
The following screen readers work with SAP GUI:
– JAWS for Windows by Freedom Scientific
– Virgo 4.6 by Baum Retec AG (currently as a BETA version)
Detailed information about supported screen readers and versions can be found in SAP Note 988421.
JAWS (an acronym for Job Access With Speech) is a screen reader, a software program for visually impaired users produced by the Blind and Low Vision Group at Freedom Scientific of St. Petersburg, Florida, USA. Its purpose is to make personal computers using Microsoft Windows accessible to blind and visually impaired users. It accomplishes this by providing the user with access to the information displayed on the screen via text-to-speech or by means of a braille display and allows for more comprehensive keyboard interaction with the computer.
It also allows users to create custom scripts, which can alter the amount and type of information, which is presented by different applications, and ultimately makes programs that were not designed for accessibility (such as programs that do not use standard Windows controls) usable through JAWS.
To read more on configuration of JAWS with SAP Softwares, read Using the JAWS Screen Reader Program with SAP Software
Learn more about SAP NetWeaver’s Support for Accessibility Standard