GOVTalks: Accessibility Recap

December 5, 2014

Another success in the books! Over 50 people from 23 agencies gathered on Nov. 12, 2014, for another installment in our GOVTalks series. This time, we teamed up with other agencies and private organizations to provide the most applicable and diverse information for you.

GOVTalks: Accessibility focused on ensuring your website is accessible for everyone including those with physical and cognitive disabilities. AMAC Accessibility Solutions, the State ADA Coordinator’s Office, and your GeorgiaGov Team shared a plethora of information that day. If you weren’t able to attend, you still have access to the handouts, videos, and resources below!

Georgia's Accessible ICT Initiative

Mike Galifianakis, State ADA Coordinator, kicked off the keynotes by explaining the importance of making programs and services usable and accessible for everyone. He stressed the necessity of eliminating a digital divide between government services and people with disabilities. Mike reminded attendees that the World Wide Web came into existence about 25 years ago, around the same time as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and therefore, the concept of ensuring accessibility was not new.

Presentation Slides

Mike Galifianakis & Dr. Christopher Lee - Georgia's Accessible ICT Initiative



Accessible Practices for State Organizations

Next, Christopher Lee, Director of AMAC Accessibility Solutions, explained the foundations of implementing accessible practices into a state organization and highlighted real life examples. He showed us how the University System of Georgia (USG) saves the state money and resources by being accessible. One Braille math book can cost about $30,000 to $50,000. One book. For one student. In 2007, because of these costs, USG tasked AMAC with developing a solution. AMAC decided to convert these textbooks into different types of media (PDF, Word documents, etc.), providing digitally accessible resources. Now the one math book can serve multiple students across the state rather than requiring one book for each student.


Disability 101

After Dr. Lee’s presentation, attendees got an in depth look into living with a disability. With real-life examples and personal anecdotes, AMAC’s Liz Persaud and Carolyn Phillips presented Disability 101. They discussed myths and facts surrounding people with disabilities and showcased impressive assistive technology created for people with disabilities. Liz and Carolyn emphasized the need for assistive technology, revealing that there are over 54,000,000 people with disabilities in the United States, making it the largest minority in the country. They shared the quote, “For a person without a disability, technology makes things easier. For a person with a disability, technology makes things possible.” Liz and Carolyn walked us through a variety of technologies available today from special keyboards to a unique computer mouse to interactive robots, and many more intuitive tools!

Presentation Slides

Liz Persaud & Carolyn Phillips - Disability 101


The Case for ICT Accessibility and Web Accessibility Tips, Tools and Strategies

Joy Kniskern with AMAC walked us through the history, current laws, and projected outcome of accessible legislation in the US and Georgia. There are multiple legal documents and cases currently in existence stressing the need for making technology accessible for everyone. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently in the process of administering web accessibility guidelines for all states, referred to as the Section 508 Refresh. There is a misconception that states don’t need to be accessible right now. Wrong. In the 1990s, all state governors submitted a letter stating that they will comply with Section 508 or else the state Assistive Technology programs will not receive funding. Joy then explained the background and details of Section 508, summarizing that all electronic information and data must be equally accessible to people with disabilities. Joy also presented useful best practices to ensure you comply with Section 508:

  • Make sure your third party vendors are trained in web accessibility
  • Avoid the colors yellow, green, and red
  • Avoid using colors alone to convey information
  • Use true text and not text images
  • Don’t have a font size smaller than 10
  • Have descriptive hyperlinks (no “click here” or “read more”)
  • Caption videos
  • No flashing content
  • Provide alternative text for images

Presentation Slides

Joy Kniskern - The Case for ICT Accessibility and Web Accessibility Tips, Tools and Strategies


Accessibility Tools in Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013

Concluding the event, Norah Sinclair from AMAC walked us through a hands-on workshop of how to make Word documents, PowerPoints, and PDF's accessible. If you have a moment, definitely watch the video below and follow along with Norah on your own computer.

Presentation Slides

Norah Sinclair - Accessibility Tools in Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013


Closing Remarks


Photo Gallery


Bethany McDaniel

About the Author

Bethany McDaniel was the Editorial Director for GeorgiaGov Interactive.

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