It is the policy of the State of Vermont 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 Vermont 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.
Through its Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is promoting a high degree of Web access for people with disabilities. In coordination with organizations around the world, WAI is pursuing Web accessibility through five primary areas of work: technology, guidelines, tools, education and outreach, and research and development. To help support the WAI, Vermont.gov is complying with W3C guidelines for Web accessibility and has tested for compliance with CAST External Link and W3C External Link.
This policy provides a set of established guidelines adopted by Vermont.gov, a checklist of design considerations and additional references. The checklist provides a quick reference for numerous design issues. Additional references are provided for those who wish to gain a broader understanding of disability and accessibility issues. Vermont.gov has adopted Section 508 and W3C Web Accessibilty Initiative standards and guidelines as the benchmark to meet the objectives of the Universal Accessibility for State Web sites policy. These published Section 508 guidelines where published to the federal register on December 21, 2000 and will be implemented in portals by June 21, 2001. 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. For more information about the Access Board and guidelines visit their Web site http://www.access-board.gov External Link.
Vermont 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. Vermont 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 Vermont.gov and will continue to evolve as new technologies and opportunities emerge.
- A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided via "alt" (alternative text attribute), "longdesc" (long description tag), or in element content.
- Web pages shall be designed so that all information required for navigation or meaning is not dependent on the ability to identify specific colors.
- Changes in the natural language (e.g., English to French) of a document's text and any text equivalents shall be clearly identified.
- Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet.
- Web pages shall update equivalents for dynamic content whenever the dynamic content changes.
- Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map.
- Client-side image maps shall be used whenever possible in place of server-side image maps.
- Data tables shall provide identification of row and column headers.
- Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers.
- Frames, if used, shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation. Whenever possible, the use of frames will be avoided.
- Pages shall be usable when scripts, applets, or other programmatic objects are turned off or are not supported, or shall provide equivalent information on an alternative accessible page.
- Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation.
- An appropriate method shall be used to facilitate the easy tracking of page content that provides users of assistive technology the option to skip repetitive navigation links.
- Background colors will be avoided since color schemes can create problems with legibility.
- Multiple browser testing will be conducted on the current versions of all browsers composing at a minimum 3 percent of total usage on the site. Currently, these browsers include Internet Explorer versions 6 and higher, Firefox versions 1.5 and higher, and Safari.
- The Official Web Site of the State of Vermont will have descriptive, intuitive text links and avoid the use of vague references such as "click," "here," "link," or "this."
In addition to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, the portal recognizes Section 508 standards are more specific in specific areas: Flicker 1194.22 (j) Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz. Skip Navigation 1194.22 (o) A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.
Checklist of Design Considerations The following list has been compiled from various sources. The purpose of this list is to provide a summary of the types of issues to consider when creating and designing accessible HTML pages.
- Maintain a standard page layout throughout the site.
- Avoid the unnecessary use of icons, graphics and photographs.
- Use plain backgrounds and simple layouts to improve the readability of text.
- Provide a text-only index of your site.
- Include textual as well as graphical navigation aids.
- Whenever possible, do not abbreviate dates; e.g., use December 1, 1996 rather than 12/1/96
- Test your web pages with a variety of web browsers; including graphical browsers with the images turned off and a text based browser, if possible.
- Avoid/Limit the use of HTML tags or extensions which are supported by only one browser.
- Check images at different resolutions and color depths.
- Hyperlinks to downloadable files should include a text description that includes the file type.
- Consider the development of a text-only version of the document or site to facilitate access not only by people with visual impairments, but users of non-graphical browsers or slow Internet connections.
- End all sentences, headers, list items, etc. with a period or other suitable punctuation.
- Avoid/Limit using side by side presentation of text, e.g., columns and tables; Consider using preformatted text which is available in all versions of HTML and can be displayed with all type of browsers.
- Minimize the number of hyperlinks that appear in a single line of text - one hyperlink is best; consider using vertical lists for links wherever possible.
- Avoid/Limit the use of bitmap images of text.
- Consider beginning lists with a descriptive identifier and the number of items so the users will have an idea of what the list represents and the total length of the list. Using numbers instead of bullets will also help the user to remember items that interest them.
- Provide meaningful and descriptive text for hyperlinks, don't use short hand, e.g. "click here". (Screen readers can search specifically for linked text, "click here" provides no indication of where the link will take them.)If documents are provided in a specialized format (e.g. PDF, etc.) provide the equivalent text in ASCII or HTML format.
Graphics and Images
- Keep the number of colors in your images to a minimum.
- Minimize the file size and number of images you display on any one page.
- Design your background image, when one must be used, at the lowest color depth and resolution you can.
- Ensure that text can always be clearly read at any location against the background.
- Avoid/Limit using image maps; provide an alternate text-based method of selecting options when image maps are used, e.g., separate HTML page or menu bar.
- Use the [ALT] option within image tags to provide associated text for all images, pictures and graphical bullets.
- Consider using described images: provide a hyperlink (the capital letter D is being used at various sites) to a short paragraph describing the image.
- If image files are used for graphical bullets in place of standard HTML, it is best to use a bullet character like an asterisk "*" or "o" in the ALT = text field of the IMG>tag (rather than describing the bullet as: "This is a small purple square").
- Provide text transcriptions or descriptions of all video clips.
- If possible include captions or text tracts with a description or sounds of the movie.
- Provide descriptive passages about speakers and events being shown through video clips.
- Give a written description of any critical information that is contained in audio files contained on your Web site.
- If you link to an audio file directly, inform the user of the audio file format and file size in kilobytes.
Emerging or newer technologies including RSS, Podcasting, and XML streams may be used, but should be accompanied by instructions on how to use the data. Alternative means for systems not capable of using these data streams should be provided, this may include descriptions, transcripts, and other text-based alternatives.
Additional References The Law
- http://www.section508.gov/ The Section 508 Web Site is an excellent source for general information, standards, evaluation, events, and resources surrounding Section 508, which will impact electronic and information technology on the Web.
- https://www.section508.gov/content/learn/laws-and-policies Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended for the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. The content of this document directly relates to the Federal government and any public or private industry contracting with the Federal government.
- http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/enforce.htm Enforcing ADA compliance - The Department of Justice handles complaints and enforcement
- http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/t2hlt95.htm Title II, Section 508 speaks directly to state, local governments and all other public entities. This highlights page provides a concise overview, abbreviated information on specific chapters that must comply with ADA standards and information about the complaint and enforcement process.
- Designing Universal Accessible websites External Link A meta-index page by theTrace Research and Development Center.
- Guide to Writing Accessible HTML External Link developed by the University of Toronto's Adaptive Technology Resource Centre.
- DO-IT HTML Guidelines External Link by Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking & Technology at the University of Washington.
- Adobe Accessibility Resource Center External Link Resources and guidelines on accessibility issues affecting Adobe products including Acrobat and Flash.
Here is how we handle information about your visit to our Portal: If you do nothing during your visit but browse through the Portal, read pages, or download information, we will gather and store certain information about your visit automatically. Your Web browser software transmits most of this information to us. This information does not identify you personally.
We automatically collect and store only the following information about your visit:
- The numeric IP address (an IP address is a number that is automatically assigned to your computer whenever you are surfing the Web) from which you access the Vermont.gov Portal. Our software can then map these IP addresses into Internet domain names, for example, "xcompany.com" if you use a private Internet access account, or "yourschool.edu" if you connect from a university's domain.
- The type of browser and operating system used to access Vermont.gov Portal.
- The date and time you access Vermont.gov.
- The pages you visit, including graphics loaded from each page and other documents you download, such as PDF (Portable Document Format) files and word processing documents.
Email and Online Forms
If you choose to identify yourself by sending us an email or by using our online forms - as when you fill in an online registration for premium services; send an e-mail to site administrator, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or someone else; or by filling out some other form with your personal information and submitting it to us through our Portal - we use that information to respond to your message and to help us get you the information you have requested. We treat e-mails the same way we treat letters sent to Vermont.gov.<.br>
- We only share the information you give us with another government agency if your inquiry relates to that agency, or as otherwise required by law.
- If you choose to subscribe to a feature such as online reminders, newsletter or new services and updates on the site. You may unsubscribe at any time.
- Registered users can edit or delete their account information by e-mailing, phoning, or faxing Vermont.gov. Please understand that, although we can delete your account online, state records retention laws may require us to maintain information about your account for a period of years.
- Vermont.gov does not collect information for commercial marketing. We will not sell or rent your personally identifiable information to anyone.
- Personal InformationIn addition to email, Vermont.gov and the various state agencies it serves may ask for your personal information in order to process various applications available through Vermont.gov. Examples include:
- Requests for site feedback, surveys, and contests.
- When paying by credit card (to verify the card we ask for the cardholder's name and address in addition to account number and card expiration date).
- When performing a transaction using a premium service; we will log the user's login name for billing purposes or for other purposes required by law.
- In addition, as Vermont.gov grows, it may offer services such as a business or consumer portals or customization features, and will likely ask for your e-mail and other information.
- All of these activities are purely voluntary. You will always have the option of whether to perform the transaction and provide this information. Please understand, however, that in order to open a premium service account or perform a service transaction, you will be required to provide some personal information. Whether to perform the transaction is up to you.Vermont.gov will send personally identifiable information about you to other companies, agencies, or people when:
- We have your consent to share the information;
- We need to share your information to provide the product or service you have requested. For example, we use a third party billing company, and we send information for billing purposes only;
- We need to send the information to companies who work on behalf of Vermont.gov to provide a product or service to you. (Unless we tell you differently, these companies do not have any right to use the personally identifiable information we provide to them beyond what is necessary to assist us);
- We are required to do so by law, subpoena, court order or legal process; or
- We find that your actions on our Portals violate the Vermont.gov Terms of Service or any of our usage guidelines for specific products or services.
- Online Transactions with Governmental AgenciesWhen you provide personally identifiable information to state agencies through Vermont.gov in order to receive requested specialized services, such information is handled as it would be on an in-person visit to a government office, and subject to the laws, regulations, practices, and procedures of the respective agency.
Personally Identifiable Information Available From Governmental Agencies Over the Web
Some governmental agencies may already have, or may acquire, personally identifiable information through the normal functions of government. Vermont law governs the use of this information according to Public Records Acts. If state or federal law treats information as public and not confidential, a state agency may choose to make the record available through Vermont.gov in much the same manner as the agency would make a record available to a member of the public who visits the agency in person.
Links to Other Sites
We take very seriously the integrity of the information and systems that we maintain. As such, we have instituted security measures for all information systems under our control so that information will not be lost, misused or altered. For site security purposes and to ensure that our Internet services remain available to all users, we employ software programs to monitor traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information or otherwise cause damage. In the event of authorized law enforcement investigations and pursuant to any required legal process, information from these sources may be used to help identify an individual. Your Vermont.gov account information is password-protected for your privacy and security. In certain areas, as with credit card transactions, Vermont.gov uses industry-standard secure socket layer (SSL) encryption to protect data transmissions. All credit card information is immediately encrypted upon receipt and authenticated through secure 128-bit SSL communications channels.
Kids' Page Safety and Privacy
Vermont.gov is not directed to children under 13, and does not knowingly collect personal information from children. For more information about children's privacy generally, please see the Federal Trade Commission's Children's Online Privacy Protection Act External Link Web page. We hope parents and teachers are involved in children's Internet explorations. It is particularly important for parents to guide their children when children are asked to provide personal information online. Vermont.gov does not sell products or services for purchase by children. If you are under 18, we specifically ask children to get their parents' permission before providing any information on line - at our site or any other site - and hope parents will always be involved in those decisions. Most importantly, in the event children do provide information through the Vermont.gov Portal, it is only used to enable us to respond to the writer, and not to create profiles of children
The Vermont.gov Oversight Committee has approved this policy. Vermont.gov may, with the approval of the Vermont.gov Oversight Committee, revise this policy from time to time. If we make any substantial changes we will notify you by posting a prominent announcement on our pages. This is a statement of policy and should not be interpreted as a contract of any kind.
More Information About Safe Surfing
The Federal Trade Commission External Link offers important information about safe surfing.
This Web portal may contain hypertext links to external Web sites and pages containing information created and maintained by public and private organizations other than Vermont.gov. These hypertext links may be created by Vermont.gov if it determines that establishing the external link will be consistent with assisting or furthering the purpose of this Web portal, which is to significantly and diligently promote public service to citizens and businesses by:
- Expanding business and citizen access to government services and government information;
- Offering an easy and convenient process for these groups to conduct transactions with State government online;
- Accelerating the development and delivery of an increased volume of quality, online government services;
- Improving the level of customer service from State government;
- Extending electronic government services to citizens of cities and county government.
- In addition, hypertext links may be created by Vermont.gov for informational purposes where the linked external Web site will provide useful and valuable information to visitors to this Web portal, or where the linked external Web site is required or authorized by law.Vermont.gov, and its overseeing entities, will determine whether the external Web site meets the purpose of this Web portal or for the specified informational purposes. The inclusion of a hypertext link to an external Web site is not intended as an endorsement of any product or service offered or referenced on the linked Web site, the organizations sponsoring said Web site, or any views that might be expressed or referenced in the Web site. Hypertext links to external Web sites and pages may be removed or replaced at the discretion of Vermont.gov and/or its overseeing entities, at any time without notice. In the event you discover problems with or have concerns regarding the format, accuracy, timeliness or completeness of a linked external Web site, please contact the organization responsible for the linked external Web site - Vermont.gov does not control nor is it responsible for any linked external Web sites, pages, or content
Photo Use Policy
Photos displayed on the Vermont.gov website are copyrighted by the photographer. Permission to use the photographs is granted for the following limited uses:
- Photos may be printed from a web browser for personal, non-commercial uses.
- Photos may be downloaded/copied electronically from a web browser for personal, non-commercial uses, with the following limitations:
- Photos may not be altered in any way, including resizing or cropping.
- Photo credits must be provided.
- Credit should be given as follows: "Photograph by [photographer's name]. Used by permission from www.vermont.gov."
- Photos may not be sold or used in any way for profit or commercial purposes, including use in commercial or professional websites or printed materials. Photos may not be used to suggest endorsement by the State of Vermont for a product or service.Requests for alternate formats or additional uses/rights should be sent to the photographer using the email link provided next to each photo on the Vermont Moments Page. The State of Vermont reserves the right to deny such requests at its discretion. Some requests may be subject to a fee for graphic design services.
Any trademarks that appear on this site are the property of their respective owners who may or may not be affiliated with, connected to, or sponsored by Vermont.gov Vermont.gov respects the rights of all copyright holders, and therefore, Vermont.gov has adopted and implemented a policy that provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances of users and account holders who infringe the rights of copyright holders. If you believe that your work has been copied in a way that constitutes copyright infringement, please provide Vermont.gov's Copyright Agent the following information required by the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 512:
- A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed;
- Identification of the copyright work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site;
- Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit us to locate the material;
- Information reasonably sufficient to permit us to contact the complaining party;
- A statement that the complaining party has a good-faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law; and
- A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.