It’s pretty sad that Congress itself isn’t yet up to speed on Section 508, to say nothing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
On April 22, a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Committee for the Judiciary displayed it’s own disability. It seems this committee of Congress can’t meet a simple requirement for equal access to information, even when the subject of their hearing is, you guessed it, equal access to information.
That Thursday, the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties heard testimony from the Department of Justice and several subject-matter experts on accessibility.
As is customary, the Committee made the testimony available in the form of PDF files; a reasonable and appropriate choice for final-form official content. Produced correctly, PDF documents are fully accessible and conform to Section 508 and other accessibility requirements.
To make the testimony available to the interested public, the subcommittee posted four untagged PDF files and one scanned PDF with no OCR.
That’s not Section 508 compliant – and more to the point, it’s just not accessible. The hearing’s subject adds irony to injury.
Following this discovery, Appligent Document Solutions performed a cursory review of other Committee on the Judiciary hearings on the same website. We found no tagged PDF files anywhere, even though PDF is the dominant means of posting testimony.
As a (unauthorized) public service, we’ve tagged the posted PDFs from the April 22nd hearing and posted them here.
NOTE: In no way do we hold the individuals testifying responsible for the inaccessibility of their testimony as posted on the Committee’s website. Ensuring equal access to posted testimony is the responsibility of the Committee’s staff, not of those offering testimony.