Web Standards for Universal Accessibility

It is the policy of the State of to ensure that people with hearing, visual and other disabilities have equal access to public information that is available on the Internet and the World Wide Web. It is the direct responsibility of the agency and its web page developers to become familiar with the guidelines for achieving universal accessibility and to apply these principles in designing and creating any official State of Rhode Island Portal.

It has been estimated that 54 million people or 20.6% of all Americans have some level of disability. This is a large segment of society waiting for opportunities to interact with all levels of government.

Estimates indicate that 95-99 percent of all Web sites are inaccessible at some level. These statistics are staggering considering the number of sites that come online daily. As of January 2000, there were an estimated 10 million Web sites online, by the end of the year - 25 million and by the year 2002, one hundred million. To date there have been no formal complaints filed against a governmental agency under the ADA of 1990. The use of the guidelines below will ensure that Web sites created by the State of Rhode Island are developed to serve the largest possible audience. Following these guidelines will also provide an added benefit to those users with text-based browsers, slow(er) modem connections and/or no multi-media capabilities on their computer.

The Access Board (the federal board assigned to create Section 508 standards) used the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative guidelines as the benchmark for developing their standards.

RI.gov has adopted the Design of HTML Pages to increase accessibility to users with disabilities as the primary guideline to meet the objectives of the Universal Access for State Design policy. These published guidelines are maintained by professionals trained in the area of assistive and information technology.

RI.gov embraces these standards and will be evaluating our site on a regular basis, increasing the opportunity for all individuals to access information over the Internet. The Universal Access Design Standards are being integrated into RI.gov and will continue to evolve as new technologies and opportunities emerge.

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Revised 03/25/2005