We previously wrote about web accessibility. Check out the article at this link.

HHS Web Standards and Usability Guidelines

Last week we covered the web content accessibility guidelines or WCAG. Find it here. Now we will take that one step further with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services standards and their usability guidelines. Based on WCAG and Section 508, these web standards are best practice in accessibility.

Section 508

Section 508 is an amendment to the Rehabilitation act of 1973 that requires Federal agencies to make electronic and information technology available to people with disabilities.  Whenever Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain or use information technology it falls under this umbrella. Due to changes in technology and trends, Section 508 was amended January 18, 2018. This amendment made the law more in line with WCAG 2.0 and European web standards. Read more at Section 508.

HHS Web Standards

HHS uses a wide variety of web standards. Some of these are simple, like using dark text on a high contrast background or limiting flash to when it reinforces material. Other standards are less obvious. After 10 days icons marking new content should expire. Content marked new, that is actually old, reduces credibility. Another standard is not linking to political sites. This can turn visitors away. There are also rules governing the use of head shots and portraits so limit these to office or biography pages. These are just a sample of the standards used by HHS.

HHS Usability Guidelines

HHS has posted 18 chapters of guidelines. Chapter 3 will be covered, as Accessibility is the focal point. Obtain a full list of usability guidelines here.

Color is not to be used to convey information by itself and avoid repetitive links. Provide text equivalents for non text items. Test plug-ins and scripts for accessibility. Provide text equivalent pages if accessibility cannot be accomplished another way. Use client side image maps as opposed to server side image maps. Synchronize multimedia elements. Avoid screen flicker and do not require style sheets. Lastly, provide frame titles to make pages more navigable and identifiable for users. Following these guidelines will ensure that a page is Section 508 compliant and accessible to all users.

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