Usability in Civic Life: Usable Access

A Celebration of Usability in Civic Life:
Access + Usability

Join us at the UPA 2008 Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland for networking, inspiration, and poster updates on projects to improve the usability and accessibility of civic life.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008
5:00 pm - 7:00
(following the e-Government program)


Dr. Annetta Cheek, Center for Plain Language
If it's not readable, it's not usable: the link between plain language and usability

Presentation slides (PPT)

Photo of Annetta CheekDr. Cheek is an anthropologist by training, earning a PhD from the University of Arizona in 1974. She spent most of her Federal career writing and implementing regulations. After becoming interested in the Plain Language movement in the early 90s, she spent four years as the chief plain language expert on Vice President Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government. She was the chair of the interagency plain language advocacy , since it was founded in 1995 until her retirement from the federal government in early 2007. During that time she also administered the group’s website, www.plainlanguage.gov. She is currently the Chair of the board of the private sector Center for Plain Language, a federally tax-exempt cooperation. She works part time as a consultant providing plain language training, writing, and consulting services. She was instrumental in getting the US Congress to introduce legislation mandating plain language in certain federal documents.


Karen Peltz Strauss, Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Telecommunications Access

Presentation slides Photo of Karen Peltz Strauss

Karen Peltz Strauss is considered one of the nation’s leading legal advocates for telecommunications access for people with disabilities. Over the past 25 years, she has spearheaded numerous pieces of federal legislation requiring access to telephones and television, including laws on telecommunications relay services, closed captioning, and hearing aid compatibility. In March of 2007, she co-founded the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology, or COAT, a coalition of nearly 200 national and regional organizations dedicated to ensuring disability access to emerging Internet-based and digital communications technologies in the 21 st century. Strauss currently provides consulting services to relay service providers, consumer groups, and research institutes, including the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Telecommunications Access. Her previous work includes serving as legal counsel for Gallaudet University's National Center for Law and Deafness, the National Association of the Deaf, and the FCC, where as Deputy Bureau Chief for its Consumer Information Bureau, she helped initiate its first Disability Rights Office. Strauss is the author of A New Civil Right, a 400 page account of the history and scope of the telecommunications access movement by the deaf and hard of hearing community in America.


New Recommendations for Section 508
Sarah Swierenga, Whitney Quesenbery, Kate Walser, Members and Mike Paciello, Co-Chair, TEITAC
For 18 months, a group of 42 organizations worked to make recommendations for updates to Section 508 and Section 255. There were representatives from companies, advocacy groups, government, international agencies...and UPA. Learn about the proposed requirements and how they compare to the current Section 508 standards and to the draft WCAG 2.0.

Section 508 – The Road to Refreshing US Accessibility Regulation
Bruce Bailey, The Access Board
The advisory committee recommendations are just the first step. Learn the process for creating and implementing a new version of regulations, and the Access Board's plans for updating Section 508.

WCAG 2.0 – Changes in W3C Accessibility Guidelines
Shawn Lawton Henry, WAI
The Web Accessibility Initiative's Web Content Authoring Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) became a ‘Candidate Recommendation’ earlier this year. Learn about this new Web Accessibility Initiative, how the new guidelines are structured, how they will improve accessibility, and how they will impact your web site.

When the Government Speaks Clearly, We All Benefit
Annetta Cheek, Center for Plain Language, Ginny Redish
Citizen advocates and Vice President Al Gore have all suggested that plain language in communications – government documents that we can all understand and use – is a civil right. Learn about plain language and how it supports usability, and about work on bills now before Congress.

The Local Election Officials Usability Testing Kit
Dana Chisnell, Josephine Scott, Sarah Swierenga, Whitney Quesenbery
A usability testing kit, designed for use by local election officials who have no special training in usability and human factors engineering. The LEO Usability Testing Kit is an answer to the question: how can we get ballots across the country usability tested for each election. We're not talking about scientific, rigorous testing, but a way to find any problems with the ballot design or other election materials before the election.

Developing Usability Benchmarks for Voting Systems
Sharon Laskowski, John Cugini, Bill Killam, NIST
The NIST Voter Performance Protocol (VPP) is part of the US Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines (VVSG). If the EAC adopts it in the next version of the guidelines, any voting system will have to meet conformance benchmarks for human performance using the system. Learn about the research to develop the test and how new voting systems will be tested.




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