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January 15, 2002

UMBC Helps Industry, Government Make Web Sites Accessible to Disabled

A course helping federal agencies and contractors' websites comply with the law requiring information technology to be accessible to people with disabilities is the latest class offered at UMBC's Computer Certification Training Center.

Designing Accessible Web Sites in Compliance with Section 508 focuses on teaching web developers and programmers a practical strategy for meeting federal requirements set by the 1998 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Act prohibits discrimination based on disability in federal employment and employment practices of contractors.

The amendment, better known as Section 508, mandates that all Federal agencies, contractors and subcontractors must make their electronic and information technology equally accessible to people with disabilities -- an estimated 54 million Americans according to the National Council on Disability. To meet this demand, many agencies and firms are seeking IT staff training to ensure equal access for the increasing number of people with seeing, hearing, manual, or cognitive impairments who are going online.

The UMBC course gives trainees a full understanding of Section 508 law and leads them through hands-on exercises followed by a mock audit and compliance project. Technical teams at the nearby Social Security Administration recently received customized training through the UMBC Center's program to support their own Section 508 compliance effort.

"The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has been invested in promoting technology access for a long time," said Dr. Betsy Zaborowski, director of special programs at NFB, the Baltimore-based nonprofit known as the country's leading advocate and the world's foremost technology center for the blind.

"Now it makes good sense for private companies to learn about access standards and requirements since the passage of 508 regulations at the Federal level and State of Maryland non-visual access procurement legislation. It is relatively easy to build access features from the ground up, but it's challenging to retrofit, so training regarding access design makes good sense," Zaborowski said.

Larry Fiorino, CEO and Founder of the Columbia-based Web solutions firm G1440, said "508 Compliance seems to have risen up out of nowhere, to bite at the heels of government and industry that have no choice but to come up to speed quickly. The first step in any organization's response should be structured awareness through training, so that a comprehensive plan can emerge, to be followed by formal audit and then effective redesign."

About UMBC CCTC:

The UMBC Computer Certification Training Center (CCTC) is a Microsoft Certified Partner, a CIW Authorized Training Partner, a CompTIA Partner, a Security Certified Program Training Partner a VUE Authorized Testing Center, and an Approved Transcender Training Partner. A national leader in technology education, UMBC established the CCTC to deliver technology training and industry-standard certification programs for individuals, businesses, government agencies and organizations in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

The UMBC CCTC is located at 3108 Timanus Lane, Executive Park West in the Windsor Mill Community of Baltimore County, just off Exit 17/18 of the Baltimore Beltway. The Center offers instructor-led and web-based training programs, with part-time, full-time, evening, weekend and weekday classes. For further information on any IT training programs at UMBC, contact (410) 594-2282, or visit the training website at www.umbc.edu/cctc.

Posted by dwinds1 at January 15, 2002 12:00 AM