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Information and Communication Technology Accessibility Standards

Effective March 1, 2020

Version 2.0 issued by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services

Preface

The Oklahoma Electronic Information Technology Accessibility (EITA) Act was passed into law in 2004, which was modeled after Section 508 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act. This law resulted in the creation of standards designed to make information and communication technology accessible for persons with disabilities. When the State of Oklahoma first published its standards in July 2005, it made Oklahoma one of the few states at the time to have its own standards aimed at improving the accessibility of information and communication technology used by the state.

Since that time, rapid technological advancements have occurred in our world. iPads and smartphones are examples of devices that are in wide use today-yet were not in use at the time Oklahoma adopted its information and communication technology standards. For Oklahoma to continue to be a leader in providing accessible technology to all of its citizens, it is necessary to update its standards.

Effective January 18, 2018, the federal Section 508 standards were refreshed in order to update information and communication technology accessibility requirements. One of the most significant changes was to incorporate the technical requirements of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 in reference to accessibility of websites and other digital content such as software applications and electronic documents. This was important, because the previous Section 508 standards were outdated.

By adopting standards based on refreshed Section 508 standards-which includes both information and communication technology-the State of Oklahoma will make government more transparent, available, and useful for those with disabilities, in accordance with the purpose of Oklahoma law. Therefore, effective March 1, 2020, the Information Technology Accessibility Standards as published July 1, 2005 and revised on June 2012, shall be repealed and replaced with the Information and Communication Technology Accessibility Standards as contained in this document.

The standards apply to all state agencies, as defined. As such, they apply equally to all state employees, contractors or any entity that deals with the State of Oklahoma.

The Office of Management and Enterprise Services will communicate the standards to all state agencies. In turn, all agencies are required to review the standards and make all staff members aware of their responsibility.

Purpose

These standards are intended to advise agencies on the procedures necessary to ensure compliance with Oklahoma law requiring information and communication technology accessibility and related standards. The purpose of the law indicates that state agencies shall ensure that information and communication technology allows employees, program participants and members of the general public with disabilities access to and use of information and data unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency or fundamental alterations to the information and communication technology are required. The law applies to agencies when developing, procuring, maintaining or using information and communication technology, or when administering contracts or grants that include the procurement, development, upgrading or replacement of information and communication technology. The law applies to both paid and free third-party products and services.

Scope

The law covers all state agencies. “State agency” is defined in the law as any office, officer, bureau, board, counsel, court, commission, institution, unit, division, body or house of the executive or judicial branches of the state government, whether elected or appointed, excluding political subdivisions of the state. State agency shall include the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the institutions, centers or other constituent agencies of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education, and the State Board of Career and Technology Education and Technology Center school districts.

Standards

At minimum, information and communication technology shall conform to the standards defined in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, effective January 18, 2018, and as may be amended from time to time.

Federal Section 508 Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards can be currently located at:  https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/communications-and...

Overview

These standards cover information and communication technology procured, developed or maintained by state departments or agencies.

An exception clarifies that the standards do not apply to technology that is incidental to a state contract. Thus, those products that are not specified as part of a contract with a state agency would not need to comply with the standards. For example, a firm that produces a report for a state agency under a contract would not have to procure accessible computers and word processing software even if they were used exclusively for the contract; however, compliance would be required if such products were to become the property of the state agency as contract deliverables or if the state agency purchased the products to be used by the contractor as part of the project. If a state agency contracts with a firm to develop its website, the standards would apply to the new website for the agency but not to the firm's own website.

These standards also cover technology procured by grantees or contractors who receive dollars from a state department or agency administering a grant or contract program when the program includes the allotment of funding for the procurement, development or upgrading of information and communication technology. As with the previous example, if the grantee’s purchase or development of information and communication technology is incidental to the grant program purpose, these standards do not apply. However, if the purchase or development is an integral part of the grant program the standards do apply.

Application of the Standards

The following defines the application of the standards:

  1. Information and communication technology products covered by these standards shall comply with all applicable provisions. When developing, procuring, maintaining or using information and communication technology products (either directly or through administration of contracts or grants), each state department or agency shall ensure that the products comply with these standards, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency or fundamental alterations to the information and communication technology are required.
    1. Information and communication technology products are those as defined by Oklahoma’s legislation regarding accessible electronic and information technology.
    2. State departments or agencies are those as defined by Oklahoma’s legislation regarding accessible electronic and information technology. 
    3. Undue burden represents significant difficulty or expense, including, but not limited to, difficulty or expense associated with technical feasibility. Fundamental alteration represents a change so significant that it alters the essential nature or functionality of the information and communication technology. 
      1. When procuring a product, if an agency determines that compliance with any provision of these standards imposes an undue burden or fundamental alterations to the information and communication technology are required, the documentation by the agency supporting the procurement shall explain why, and to what extent, compliance with each such provision creates an undue burden or fundamental alterations to the information and communication technology are required. This documentation must be maintained with the requisition.
      2. When compliance with these standards imposes an undue burden or fundamental alterations to the information and communication technology are required, agencies shall provide individuals with disabilities the information and data involved by an alternative means of access that allows the individual to use the information and data in accordance with other applicable State and Federal laws such as Title I and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 503 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
  2. When procuring a product, the accessibility determination should be made in accordance with Oklahoma Administrative Code 260:115-7-54, accessible information and communication technology acquisitions.
  3. When developing software applications, web pages or other information and communication technology systems, each covered entity shall require conformance with the applicable technical access standards unless an undue burden would be imposed or fundamental alterations to the information and communication technology are required.
  4. Except as described under “Exceptions to the Standards” provided below, these standards apply to information and communication technology developed, procured, maintained or used by state departments or agencies directly; or used by a contractor under a contract with a state department or agency which requires the use of such product, or requires the use, to a significant extent, of such product in the performance of a service or the furnishing of a product; or when state departments or agencies administer contracts or grant programs that include a significant allotment of funding for the procurement, development or upgrading of information and communication technology.
  5. These standards apply to all information and communication technology purchased after the effective date of these standards, providing the solicitation process was not initiated prior to the effective date.
  6. These standards apply to all information and communication technology developed and/or substantially modified or substantially enhanced after the effective date of these standards, providing the procurement and/or development process was not initiated prior to the effective date.

Exceptions to the Standards

The following defines the exception to the standards:

  1. These standards do not apply to any information and communication technology operated by state departments or agencies, the function, operation or use of which involves intelligence activities, crypto logic activities related to public safety, command and control of law enforcement, equipment that is an integral part of a weapon or weapons system or systems which are critical to the direct fulfillment of public safety or intelligence missions. Systems which are critical to the direct fulfillment of public safety or intelligence missions do not include a system that is to be used for routine administrative and business applications (including payroll, finance, logistics and personnel management applications).
  2. These standards do not apply to information and communication technology that is acquired by a contractor or grantee incidental to a contract or grant, provided the technology does not become State property upon the completion of the contract.
  3. Except as required to comply with these standards, state departments and agencies are not required to install specific accessibility-related software or attach an assistive technology device to information and communication technology products unless required by other applicable State or Federal laws.

    NOTE: In general, compliance with these standards provides built-in access features in products or provides compatibility with add-on assistive technology devices. Compliance with these standards does not necessarily ensure access needed by individual people with disabilities as an additional assistive device may be required, a substitute product may be required or another type of accommodation may be needed to meet their individual needs. Provision of assistive technology, substitute products with specific access features and other types of accommodation should be done in accordance with the requirements of applicable State and Federal laws, e.g. the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 503 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

  4. These standards shall not be construed to require a fundamental alteration in the nature of a product or its components. Products located in physical spaces frequented only by service personnel for maintenance, repair or occasional monitoring of equipment are not required to comply with these standards.

Equivalent Facilitation

Nothing in these standards is intended to prevent the use of designs or technologies as alternatives to those prescribed in these standards provided they result in substantially equivalent or greater access to and use of a product for people with disabilities.

Agencies may accept IT offered by vendors, which uses designs or technologies that do not meet the applicable technical provisions, but provide substantially equivalent or greater access to and use of a product for people with disabilities. This is referred to as "equivalent facilitation."

Equivalent facilitation is not an exception or variance from the requirement to provide comparable access. Rather, it is recognition that technologies may be developed or used in ways not envisioned by the technical provisions of this document but still result in the same or better functional access. Functional outcome – not form – is the key to evaluating whether a technology results in "substantially equivalent or greater access." The functional performance criteria set forth in Chapter 3 of Section 508 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act shall serve as a guide to determine when something that falls outside of standards is still functionally accessible.

Complaint Process

Agencies shall designate an Accessibility Compliance Representative(s) responsible for ensuring compliance to Oklahoma law for electronic and information technology accessibility and the related information and communication technology accessibility standards.

Any individual may file a complaint alleging that a state agency fails to comply with Oklahoma law and the related information and communications technology accessibility standards pursuant to the provisions set forth in Chapter 15 of Title 260 of the Oklahoma Administrative Code.

Frequently Asked Questions

What has changed since the Standards Refresh?

Oklahoma’s Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility (EITA) law itself did not change. The EITA law went into effect in January of 2005.

The law applies to Oklahoma agencies under the Executive Branch, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, institutions under the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and Oklahoma’s Career and Technical System. The law requires that covered entities avoid discriminating against people with disabilities by making sure that information and communication technology provided by those entities is accessible. The law focuses on

[I]nformation and communication technology developed, procured, maintained or used by state departments or agencies directly; or used by a contractor under a contract with a state department or agency which requires the use of such product, or requires the use, to a significant extent, of such product in the performance of a service or the furnishing of a product; or when state departments or agencies administer contracts or grant programs that include a significant allotment of funding for the procurement, development or upgrading of information and communication technology

The documented complaint procedure (cite), accessibility compliance representative and other provisions of the EITA law and rules remain the same. What changed is the EITA standards that provide guidance to Oklahoma’s executive agencies, higher education institutions, Regents for Higher Education and Career and Technical Systems.

Oklahoma’s new EITA standards incorporate the refreshed standards from Section 508 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act. The refreshed Section 508 standards are effective as of January 18, 2018 for federal agencies and those that do business with them.

These refreshed Section 508 standards have a few notable differences from the old standards:

  • Incorporate the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Level AA (WCAG 2.0 AA)
  • Explicitly apply WCAG 2.0 AA to non-web content, such as Microsoft Office and Adobe PDF files
  • Explicitly include internal agency communication in web and non-web formats
  • Incorporation of PDF/UA-1 as a technical standard for authoring and conversion tools that create PDF documents
     

What did not change?

Oklahoma’s EITA originally went into effect in January, 2005. In addition to providing technical standards, EITA defines other key components. In part, this includes:

  • Identification of an accessibility compliance representative and annual updating of the person that fills that role and their contact information
  • A defined complaint process that agencies must follow if a constituent encounters barriers to access in agency information and communication technology
  • The scope of the law, which includes state agencies from the executive branch, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, member institutions under the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and the Career and Technical System

These elements are still in place. This update applies to the standards and not to the actual law or rules published in the Oklahoma Administrative Code.

Can I read the refreshed Section 508 standards?

Yes. The text of the Section 508 standards now referenced by Oklahoma’s standards is available from the United States Access Board.

What is "information and communication technology"?

Information and communication technology is a phrase used to describe many forms of technology commonly used in a modern environment. This is different terminology than electronic and information technology. However, the use of ICT is intended to describe technology that is more modern. The United States Access Board defines information and communication technology as:

Unless otherwise noted, it is intended to broadly encompass electronic and information technology covered by Section 508, as well as telecommunications products, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) products, and Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) covered by Section 255. Examples of ICT include computers, information kiosks and transaction machines, telecommunications equipment, multifunction office machines, software, websites, and electronic documents.
 

Do the standards apply to free ICT products?

Yes. Covered entities are responsible for ICT that they provide whether the ICT is created in-house, purchased or used for no fee.

For example, if your entity’s website has a plugin that lets your entity create interactive forms, then the forms that it creates are subject to the EITA standards. The interface used to create the forms is also subject to EITA standards.

In short, your entity’s entire procurement and use decision making process must account for accessibility.

If covered entities under EITA need to conform to WCAG 2.0 AA, then does that mean that entities can ignore WCAG 2.0 A?

No. The WCAG 2.0 standards are built so that each higher level of standards includes the level or levels below it. WCAG 2.0 AA includes WCAG 2.0 A as well. So covered entities must use both WCAG 2.0 A and WCAG 2.0 AA when assessing accessibility in information and communication technology.

What is different about WCAG 2.0 AA compared to Oklahoma’s previous EITA standards?

The WCAG 2.0 AA standard provides more flexibility than the former EITA standards. Oklahoma’s EITA standards that went into effect in 2005 were based on the WCAG 1.0 standards. The WCAG 1.0 standards were written in the late 1990’s. Technology such as smartphones and interactive kiosks simply did not exist at that time. So the WCAG 1.0 standards did not give clear guidance about how to make modern technology more accessible to people with disabilities.

The WCAG 2.0 AA standards focus more on how something works than how it is built. WCAG 2.0 standards describe how a ICT should look and how it should function so that it passes information to assistive technology such as screen reading software or speech recognition software. You can think of the WCAG 2.0 standard set as one that looks at function over form. This makes it easier to apply the same set of standards across different devices, websites, software and other document types.

What if I have three possible ICT products and none of them are completely accessible?

The EITA law requires that you select the most accessible product that meets the business need without creating an undue burden to the procuring entity or a fundamental alteration to the function of the ICT product. More generally, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 503 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act say that entities do not have to incur an undue burden or create a fundamental alteration to their programs, services or activities in order to achieve the highest level of accessibility.

Remember to document thoroughly any determinations of undue burden and/or creating a fundamental alteration. Undue burden is generally determined at the organizational level and not at the departmental level.

What is a non-web document?

As defined under the refreshed Section 508 standards:

A document that is not: a Web page, embedded in a Web page, or used in the rendering or functioning of Web pages.

Examples include Microsoft Word, Adobe PDF, Microsoft Publisher, Apple Keynote and similar file types.

Section 508 also defines non-web software as:

Software that is not: a Web page, not embedded in a Web page, and not used in the rendering or functioning of Web pages.

Examples of non-web  software include installed applications such as Microsoft Office (excluding Office 365) and Adobe Acrobat Professional.

What do we do about ICT delivered under a contract?

Any web or non-web deliverable that is required under a contract with a state agency must be accessible to the updated EITA standards. Entities covered by EITA need to make sure that deliverables under the contract conform to WCAG 2.0 AA standards.

A vendor working under a contract may acquire software or hardware that they use to create the contracted deliverables. This kind of software or hardware does not need to meet the EITA standards unless the vendor will turn the software or hardware over to the contracting, covered entity.

On the other hand, if the vendor acquired a third party plugin that it integrates into the contracted deliverable then that third party plugin must be accessible to EITA standards.

What does the exception for a maintenance area mean?

Modern administration software is usually available on any computer and many devices that attach to an entity’s network. However, some administration tools are only available in a maintenance room that few people ever enter. In this case, the Americans with Disabilities Act already states that such a maintenance space does not need to be accessible to ADA standards for accessibility in the built environment. Software only found in this sort of space is exempt from the accessibility requirement under EITA.

Modern software that is available on computers and/or devices outside of this maintenance space must still conform to the EITA standards.

What should be reported to the state CIO?

As noted in the Oklahoma State Finance Act, located at 62 O.S. Section 34.28, and in the Oklahoma Administrative Code, located at OAC Title 260, Chapter 15-1-5, agencies are required to submit evidence of assurance of compliance with state standards on accessibility of information technology for individuals with disabilities.

Please ensure your assigned accessibility compliance representative is aware of the updated standards and complies with submitting the annual reports as outlined in statute.

Oklahoma’s executive agencies, higher education Institutions, Regents for Higher Education and Career and Technical Systems must provide the following information annually on Oct. 1 to the state CIO.

  • Certified statement assuring agency’s compliance with the IT accessibility standards.
  • Submit name and contact information of the agency accessibility compliance representative.
  • Accessibility compliance representative provides an IT accessibility complaint report.

Please review the IT Statutory and Regulatory reporting requirements webpage for more information.