Accessibility of Electronic Information and Information Technologies
State and federal laws – as applicable to various covered entities – along with the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, require that qualified individuals with disabilities be afforded the same opportunities that are available to persons without disabilities.
See, for example, Section 504, of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended; and sections 282.601 - 282.606, Florida Statutes, known as the Florida Accessible Electronic and Information Technology Act.
These laws and rules provide that the court system must take steps to ensure its communications with persons with disabilities are as effective as communications with others. Other entities in the legal system have similar obligations under state and federal laws and rules. These obligations extend to communications through electronic formats.
Some individuals with disabilities use assistive technology- such as screen enlargers or magnifiers; alternative keyboards, electronic pointing devices, trackballs, or touch screens instead of a mouse to control the cursor; screen readers; and reading tools - to access electronic information. Ensuring accessibility of electronic information means certain conventions are necessary for assistive devices to properly "read" an electronic document in a sensible way. Generally, this means using proper built-in formatting elements and adding verbal tags and attributes for graphics.
REQUIREMENTS for Accessible Filings and Judicial Branch Records
Documents that are electronically filed in the Florida State Courts System MUST include the following elements:
- Documents must be properly prepared using built-in document layout features found in the word processing software. (e.g. proper use of styles, heading levels, bulleted items, columns and tables.)
- Images and/or non-text elements must include alternative text (alt text) descriptions.
- Charts and graphs must have either an alternative text description or provide a description in the text in the immediate proximity of the chart or graph.
- Data cells in tables must be associated with row and column headers.
- Information in tables must read from left to right and from top to bottom.
- Columns must be created properly using built-in document layout features found in the word processing software to ensure correct reading order.
- Multimedia presentations must include synchronized captions.
- Color must not be the only method used to convey important information.
- PDF documents must be tagged, have a logical reading and tab order, include bookmarks for large files (more than 10 pages), have a language specified, and pass the Section 508 and Adobe Full Check found in Adobe Acrobat software.
RECOMMENDED Steps to Enhance Accessibility of Electronic Information:
It is recommended that the following steps be taken on documents that are electronically filed in the Florida State Courts System.
- Document properties for Title, Author, Subject, Keywords, and Language should be properly filled out.
- A clickable Table of Contents should be inserted by using appropriate heading levels available in the built-in document layout features found in the word processing software, when necessary.
- All Comment and Markup items should be deleted.
- No hidden data should be present.
- All hyperlinks should be active and use the fully-qualified URL, e.g., http://www.floridasupremecourt.org (as opposed to Florida Supreme Court).
- Tracked changes and previous version information should be removed.
RESOURCES & EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS
There are many web sites that detail how to perform the above requirements. The Florida Bar's web page titled Enhancing the Accessibility of Electronic Information provides a plethora of information, links and references.
- Microsoft Accessibility Site
- Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Resource Center
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Testing Documents for Section 508 Compliance
- Federal Access Board
- Department of Justice
- Florida Statutes, Chapter 282 - Accessible Electronic and Information Technology Act
- Section 508 Refresh - future changes to Electronic Document standards