Information technology (IT) is now a vital part of many aspects of everyday life, including government services. Many government workers of varying ages, skills, and occupations depend on access to computer systems to perform their daily work. In turn, more and more government services and information are being delivered electronically over the World Wide Web via a growing array of devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops, kiosks). While electronic service delivery presents many opportunities for greater access, technology may also erect unintentional barriers for some users. The State of Kansas must ensure that access to its information and communications technologies and systems is equitable and inclusive for everyone, including people with disabilities.
The State has had a policy in place since 2000 that requires all State organizations to comply with a hybrid of internationally accepted and federally mandated web content accessibility guidelines. Implementation of this policy was initially supported by the State’s Web Accessibility Subcommittee (WAS), a diverse group of volunteers from State agencies, Regents institutions, and the accessibility advocacy community. As the effort matured, the WAS undertook a strategic planning effort to determine the actions and resources needed to improve the effectiveness of the State’s IT accessibility efforts.
The resulting recommendations include:
As a result of this planning effort, in January 2008, the position of Director of IT Accessibility was created within the Department of Administration. In addition, the Kansas Partnership for Accessible Technology (KPAT), a high-level board composed of senior program and policy leaders, was formed in December 2008 to oversee a renewed program that was sponsored by both the administration and throughout State government.
The goal of the State IT accessibility program is to provide the leadership, policy direction, and support necessary to make all State of Kansas content and services delivered through information and communications technologies accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. The breadth of this goal and the wide range of impacted systems, organizations, and activities require a high degree of participation, cooperation, and support throughout State government.
Successful implementation involves several dimensions:
The IT accessibility program is driven primarily by the KPAT, an independent partnership of stakeholders in IT accessibility established by Executive Order of the Governor. The KPAT coordinates and oversees the activity of the program as a whole, provides stakeholder input and guidance, endorses policies, and takes a leadership role in promoting the effort throughout State government. The membership of the Partnership is diverse, including agency decision-makers; representatives from disability community advocacy, support, and service organizations; IT officers; and other interested parties. It participates in the State IT governance structure and works closely with other related groups like the Information Network of Kansas, vets proposals through the IT community via the Information Technology Advisory Board, and advises the Information Technology Executive Council. Ad hoc committees, generally consisting of personnel from the organizations represented in the KPAT who have interest and expertise concerning the subject at hand, take up tasks relating to individual initiatives.
While many topics will warrant the attention of the program over time, its initial focus is on web accessibility. In this effort, five areas of work have been identified:
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