The purpose of this publication is to establish and communicate the
State of New Jersey's position regarding Web accessibility requirements
for executive branch Web sites and online services. The objective of
this policy is to improve the ease with which all citizens, including
those with disabilities, can access and benefit from Web based government
services and information.
This policy applies to all Web sites and Web services provided by New
Jersey state agencies in the executive branch of government that operate
Web sites as a public service, other than independent state entities.
Independent state entities are strongly encouraged to adopt this policy
or a similar policy.
The Access Board is an independent federal entity, established by Section
502 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 792), whose primary mission
is to promote accessibility for individuals with disabilities.
Content provider is a generic term that refers to an individual who
contributes to the creation or maintenance of a Web page. Content providers
include but are not limited to Web designers/developers/programmers,
Webmasters, graphic and multimedia designers, and Web publishers.
Independent state entities are authorities, boards, commissions, and
other agencies of the state of New Jersey, which are not subject to
the policies, supervision, and control of the governor. An example of
an independent state agency is the NJ Transit Authority.
Reasonable steps are steps that do not impose undue financial or administrative
hardship on an agency.
Senior management refers to the chief executive, chief information
officer, and chief technology officer, chief financial officer and any
other official reporting directly to the chief executive of a principal
department or agency, including NJOIT.
W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium) refers to the independent, computer
industry group that develops interoperable technology, specifications,
guidelines, software, and tools designed to enable the Web to its full
potential as a forum for information, commerce, communication, and collective
Universal Web Accessibility refers to the condition of a Web site designed
to meet the needs of the widest range of people's abilities.
The Internet and the World Wide Web have become a tremendous source
for government information and are becoming a preferred channel for
government service delivery. However, if Web sites are not designed
and developed for accessibility, then certain segments of the population,
particularly the physically disabled, will not be able to reap the benefits
that the Internet brings to society. In New Jersey there are approximately
1 million people over 5 years of age with a long term disability, according
to the Census 2000 Supplementary Survey Profile for New Jersey, published
by the United State Census Bureau. It is imperative that New Jersey
state government Web sites do not create obstacles for citizens with
disabilities in their pursuit of information. Compliance with these
guidelines will help to ensure that New Jersey Web sites serve the largest
In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to reflect
the newly emerging focus on technology. The amended act added provisions
requiring federal agencies' electronic and information technology be
accessible to persons with disabilities, including employees and members
of the public. The law applies to all federal agencies as they develop,
procure, maintain, and/or use electronic and information technology.
In addition, Section 508 of the act also assures that people with disabilities
in the general public have equal access to federal government information.
While state governments are not directly subject to Section 508, Section
504 of the Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities
in any federally funded programs or activities. It requires that programs
receiving federal funds must be accessible to individuals with disabilities.
And while Section 504 does not specifically address electronic and information
technology accessibility issues, it may be inferred that federally funded
state programs have some responsibility to meet the requirements of
The U.S. Department of Justice issued an opinion in September 1996
stating that the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) Titles II and
III require state and local governments and the business sector to provide
effective communication whenever they communicate through the Internet.
This effective communication rule applies to covered entities using
the Internet for communications regarding their programs, goods, or
services, since they must be prepared to offer those communications
via an accessible medium.
Usability of information technology is a serious issue for New Jersey
citizens with disabilities. Web pages that are not designed to be accessible
bar individuals with disabilities from participating in and reaping
the benefits of e-government and e-commerce.
Accessible Web design provides benefits beyond the community of disabled
persons. The most significant benefit is that accessible Web design
enables users of simple technology to access information requiring more
sophisticated technology. Thus, people with slow modems and low bandwidth
can access the electronic content of an accessible Web site even if
they do not have state-of-the-art computer equipment. Additionally,
people with personal digital assistants and cell phones can access the
content of Web sites incorporating accessible Web design features.
New Jersey state agencies subject to this policy shall take reasonable
steps to design and develop Web sites and Web services so that they
are accessible to people with disabilities as well as those without
Agency Web page developers, designers, programmers, and content providers
shall become familiar with the guidelines for achieving universal Web
accessibility and shall apply these principles in designing and creating
any official state of New Jersey Web sites.
Agencies shall take reasonable steps to meet the Web accessibility
standards issued by the Access Board, Part 1194 to Chapter XI of Title
36 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Subpart B Section 22, under Section
508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Many items in the Section 508 standards
are similar to the Priority 1 level checkpoints of the Web Content Accessibility
Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG) developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C),
but there are some variances.
Any revisions to the Section 508 Web access standards shall be incorporated
as a requirement of this policy unless agencies are otherwise notified.
Agencies are strongly encouraged to go beyond the Section 508 accessibility
standards and incorporate the additional Web design techniques contained
in the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
All state agencies subject to the policy shall take reasonable steps
to incorporate Web accessible design techniques when developing new
Web pages, sites, and services. As existing Web pages, sites, and services
are revised and updated, agencies shall take reasonable steps to ensure
the accessibility of those pages, sites, and services.
Roles and Responsibilities
To achieve the objectives of this policy, a State department or agency
must be able to demonstrate that it has incorporated all WCAG Priority
1 checkpoints and paragraphs 1194.22 (l), (m), (n), (o), and (p) of
Section 508 for new or revised Web documents.
References and Resources
Links to references and resources can be found at the State's Web accessibility
Section 508 standards -- § 1194.22 Web-based Intranet and Internet
information and applications
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG)
W3C Web Access Initiative
The Federal IT Accessibility Initiative Training (free online training)
Thatcher, J. W. (2001). "Section 508 Web Standards and WCAG Priority
1 checkpoints: A side-by-side comparison." Retrieved December 19,
2001, from http://www.jimthatcher.com/sidebyside.htm
Research Exchange Volume 6, Number 3, 2001 -- a publication of the
National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research. Retrieved
December 19, 2001, from http://www.ncddr.org/du/researchexchange/v06n03/.