County of Sonoma, California
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Website Accessibility Policy
(Administrative Policy 9-3)

Approved:
June 15, 2010
Resolution:
#10-0479
Origination Date:
June 15, 2010

I. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines for website accessibility and to ensure compliance with state and federal laws regarding equal access to websites and content for individuals with disabilities.

II. Background

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 1998 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 508) require that government websites eliminate barriers in information technology, and encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. Under Section 508 agencies must give individuals with disabilities access to information that is comparable to the access available to others.

III. Scope

This policy applies to all websites maintained by the County, Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, Sonoma County Water Agency, Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control District, and the Community Development Commission (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Agencies”.)

IV. Policy

  1. The Agencies are committed to providing the public, including individuals who use assistive technology, access to web-based information and services by using Section 508 design principles.
  2. The Agencies are subject to and must comply with both Title II of the ADA and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. To the extent that there are inconsistencies between Title II and Section 508 regarding website compliance, Agencies are advised to comply with the more stringent standards between the two.
    1. Agencies are responsible for ensuring that all information posted to its website complies with accessibility standards, or that it makes provisions to supply the material in an alternate format.
    2. If an Agency contracts to develop, maintain, or host websites, the Agency will ensure that contractor meets accessibility standards and that accessibility standards are addressed within the contract.
  3. Given the rapid pace of technological change, this Policy does not stipulate a specific set of design principles but strives to ensure that the most current criteria are used by adopting the “Web Standards and Guidelines – County of Sonoma” (hereafter referred to as the “Standards”). Agencies are responsible for ensuring that staff/contractors that develop or publish materials to websites are familiar with these Standards. The Information Systems Department has developed and will periodically review and update the Standards. The Standards are available at http://webstandards.sonoma-county.org.
  4. All new Agency websites created after the effective date of this Policy will comply with this Policy.
  5. Existing Agency websites will be brought into compliance with this Policy as part of any substantive site additions, updates or redesign.
    1. Substantive changes include significant changes to navigation structure, redesign of site ‘look and feel’ and addition of new content areas, programs or services.
    2. Priority for implementing accessibility standards should be given to services most frequently accessed and related information such as: major Policy documents and reports, forms, materials associated with public meetings, human resources information, and top level Agency pages.

V. Known Limitations

Individuals with (or without) disabilities access websites with widely varying sets of capabilities, software, and hardware. While this Policy does provide the ability for individuals with disabilities to access web-based information, this Policy does not include requirements for the production of every known accessibility need, due to known limitations on existing technology. There may be other circumstances, independent of technology that may limit accessibility of Agency websites.

While every reasonable effort will be made, it is understood that creating accessible formats for large, complex documents (such as Environmental Impact Reports and reports containing complex tables and graphs), some historical documentation and graphical renderings and photographs maintained by the Agency may be technologically unfeasible. In this case, Agencies will be responsible for providing alternative methods of ensuring accessibility of this material. Agency websites must provide information on how to contact the Agency to request materials in an alternate format. See the Standards for suggested language to direct the reader in requesting an alternate format.

VI. Responsibilities

  1. Agencies are responsible for implementing this Policy.
  2. Agency web page developers, content providers and document authors are responsible for ensuring Agency websites and content comply with this Policy. Agency web page developers and content providers (includes document authors) shall become familiar with the guidelines for achieving accessibility and shall apply these principles in designing and creating any official Agency websites or content.
  3. The Information Systems Department (ISD) is responsible for developing and maintaining the “Web Standards and Guidelines – County of Sonoma” (Standards.)
  4. The Human Resources ADA Coordinator is responsible for administering this Policy and for resolving any grievances related to this Policy.

VII. Compliance

To achieve the objectives of this policy, Agencies must be able to demonstrate that they have designed and maintained their websites according to the Standards. For websites hosted by ISD, ISD will provide support on compliance and resources for Agencies to ensure posted material complies with this policy. Agencies that host their own websites, or contract for this service, are responsible for meeting or exceeding the compliance and monitoring provisions provided by ISD.

VIII. Resources

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