Feed on

By Stephen Polacek

Over the course of my three years here at the IT Accessibility Initiative, I’m confident in saying we’re making headway in making Maryland more accessible to those with disabilities.  This State Scoop article explains our approach to this goal.  Here are some of the highlights of the past year.


We’ve continued our partnership with DGS, training procurement officers throughout the state in what the Non-Visual Access Clause (NVA) and what digital accessibility means, what standards we’re using in Maryland to determine that, and what can be done when IT solutions aren’t compliant.  We’re also developing more resources for different situations and for helping departments and vendors create remediation plans to achieve compliance within the time limit of the NVA. 


Our regular monthly webinars are still drawing a broad representation of attendees, on average, providing training to 30-40 participants at a seminar.  We’ve begun expanding our outreach through our monthly newsletter and announcements, and have developed a partnership with the EEO office to help raise awareness of digital accessibility and get our resources into the hands of those who need them.  Individual training requests have risen, including a series of content creation and website accessibility sessions for two state agency communication teams.  These four part series should empower agencies to create and remediate their content for accessibility independently.


This past year, one of our major achievements was the adoption of mapping accessibility guidelines by the DoIT GIS Office and its partners throughout the state.  With this, the state departments using the various mapping tools such as ESRI will have an easier time providing geographical information in an accessible manner without having to reinvent the wheel.


For the future, we’re looking to solidify the NVA evaluation process in procurement and provide more on-demand training especially to communications staff.  This on-demand training will be in the form of classes available on the statewide training platform, meaning state employees have it on hand as soon as they need it or can go back for a refresher without needing to schedule.  Of course, we’ll still be available to provide relevant guidance and training for all.


While I can’t yet claim Maryland state government is fully accessible, the goal of incorporating accessibility into our processes is more than attainable. From procurement, to development, to remediation, we’ll continue working towards greater accessibility, and hopefully, someday soon, accessibility will be a normal part of our daily routines.

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