Fee Based Distribution
The U.S. Access Board is at the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking stage with 10 new standards, including the 508 refresh, and they are proposing to make some of the new standards incorporated by reference available only by fee and with distribution restrictions. If some of the documents we need to refer to are only available for a fee it will affect us negatively. For those earning less, the impact will be greater.
Comment by Public Resource
David Halperin and Carl Melamud of Public.Resource.Org have written an excellent comment on this aspect of the proceedings.
This issue was brought to my attention this evening by my colleague Sina Bahram who co-signed the comment.
I have been using Section 508 guidelines, covering web accessibility, in my accessible user experience practice since 1999 and I know that the refresh of Section 508 is long overdue so I’m all for getting this information published, but this is the wrong way to go about it.
More onerous than the fee structure, the restrictions placed on open sharing of those documents will have a very chilling effect on my ability to debate the meaning of those documents which is the essence of what we do when attempting to apply the standards.
No matter how they are written, it’s the interpretation of the standards in the fast paced world of accessibility practice that matters. If we can’t freely share and debate the information we will be unable to practice effectively.
I am glossing over some details because it is late and I’m typing this on my phone. Fortunately, the comment referenced above is very thorough and explains the situation very well.
I have written to the American Association of Law Librarians (AALL) which has a great interest in open and free access to legal information like this. If you can think of organizations like AALL and can spare a few minutes to alert them to this situation, or you can make a comment about it on the Access Board site, please do.