High-Level Computer Language Programs Are Directly Understood By A Computer Is Your CMS Building Ramps To Your Web Site?

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Is Your CMS Building Ramps To Your Web Site?

Visualize this: You are in a friend’s place that has no road signs or distinct land markers. Your chances of finding this friend’s location without someone or GPS to guide you are probably next to none. Also, should you be expected to find this same place in the dark, giving up on going home doesn’t seem like a bad idea, does it?

A website works in a similar way: if there is no clear direction on how to navigate through the site or if there is a poor visual cue on how to convey the content, then it will be given a low ranking and no accessibility. If this is the case for people with the gift of sight, imagine the situation of millions of visually challenged visitors who want to access and locate the content on your site.

An accessible Web site provides assistance in communicating effectively with the widest audience by flattening roadblocks in interaction. All that is required of the owners of the Web site is to follow the Best Practices in the principles of site design and content to make the Web site easily accessible to everyone. The most common categories that prevent accessibility are:

o Blindness and low vision. A whole range of IT technologies can provide assistance ranging from screen readers, refreshing Braille displays and screen magnifiers. Keyboard/website navigation assistance, scalable display font sizes, fuzzy searches, alt tags for all images and high contrast between background and text go a long way.

o Cognitive and learning disabilities. Simple and intuitive navigation, consistency in the presentation of content across the website, clear labels and ALT tags, relevant and meaningful content, long documents that carry executive summaries at the top and language understood by a wider audience.

o Hearing disorders. Websites should be accessible with content subtitles synchronized with multimedia and other ways to render content, and interactive volume controls.

o Mobility and Speech Disorders. The technology that provides assistance generally requires computer hardware at the user site and the architecture of the assistance Web site. This includes one-handed keyboards, head/mouth stick and full eye tracking on the user’s computer. Web site navigation with voice recognition provides an easy way to navigate a Web site.

Ramp access to your websites?

Designing navigable sites for people with disabilities is not only federally mandated in some cases, it is also socially desirable and makes good business sense as well. The organization that pursues it comes as one that has a strong sense of social responsibility, and sensitive to the needs of others challenged. It is also desirable because legislation such as Section 508 (of the Rehabilitation Act) requires that US federal agencies have their websites accessible to the blind and visually impaired with the help of readers of the screen.

Section 508, for those unfamiliar with the Act, requires “federal agencies to make their electronic and computer technology accessible to persons with disabilities… Under Section 508 (29 USC ‘794d) , agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information comparable to the access available to others.”

While this is not mandatory for private organizations, many have voluntarily made their websites Section 508 compliant, as such requirements may be enforced in the future. Census data indicates that in 2002, out of 222 million Americans (15 years and older), there were 46 million with some form of disability (30 million severe). This number is expected to swell up to 54 million in 2007. It is only a matter of time before private organizations realize the importance of presenting their Web site in a way that is fully accessible to visually challenged people. With such a huge base, smart private organizations cannot afford to ignore people with disabilities. Even with the average annual income of this segment was $23,034 against an average of $31,840 in 2002, it is estimated that they control more than $175 billion in discretionary income.

Despite this not insignificant opportunity, most companies have not actively taken steps to make their website Section 508 compliant. As with any other technology adoption, cost is undoubtedly one of the main factors influencing the decision. Developing, maintaining and repurposing content to comply with Section 508 guidelines is expensive and resource-intensive work. When the guidelines change, the content or framework of the entire site needs to change as well. When you consider that these changes have to be made to thousands of pages on a website, the effort is tedious and time consuming.

Requirements for accessible websites

For a website to be easily navigable by the visually challenged, screen readers are necessary. Content organization, appropriate titling, and linking are critical signposts that allow screen readers to access and read content in the same way that a person with normal vision would interpret it. Designing such a website is no less challenging, as the screen reader needs to convey intelligently to the person on the site how to navigate, communicate relationships between content elements, and the type of content. These requirements will be slightly different for a person who can see but has poor eyesight. Those who fall into this category need their content in large fonts, and visually bright colors and large image sizes.

When you consider that managing the content of the Web site itself is a challenge, the compliance requirements of Section 508 take this challenge to a new level. In addition to the requirements of content, usability, design and architecture of information – you need to separate the form from the content, and make it accessible for people with all categories of disabilities. This is not a task for the faint of heart unless you have a full Web CMS system to handle your content requirements.

Website CMS can help you build the right ramp

A website content management system is the right tool to take on the task of creating, maintaining and managing a website. In particular, it allows organizations to maintain consistency across all pages of their Web site – which is absolutely critical when dealing with a Web site that will be accessed by a visually challenged person.

A Website CMS like CrownPeak can, for example, enhance design and navigation schemes, and content presentation through standardized presentation templates. These templates can ensure that the presentation of the content, the title and the link are arranged in such a way that they allow visually challenged people to easily navigate the site with voice commands. Since templates control how data is displayed on the Web site, subject matter experts can create content without having to worry about Section 508 compliance.

The company’s versioning and content monitoring tools can also allow government organizations to instantly become compliant with data storage regulations as they are established.

Functions such as verification and comprehensive system reporting provide government organizations with the ability to manage and track the history of all tasks that facilitate adherence to compliance regulations. Files can be given a complete document life cycle, including check-in, check-out, versioning, rollback, approval and scheduling.

A website content management system also has intelligent workflow automation, ensuring that content passes through the appropriate quality gates before being published. In addition, fully configurable workflows allow organizations to assign their tasks to each person, and escalate when defined thresholds are crossed. For example, e-mail alerts can be sent to content owners of specific sections on a Web site when these sections are not updated after a specified period of time. This is difficult to do in a manual system.

To summarize, a Web content management system can provide the following benefits:

o Improve efficiency and maintain consistency in terms of regulations

o Reduction of non-compliant code violations

o Reduced maintenance cost.

Why should you consider the SaaS model?

While website content management systems help users manage content more effectively, government organizations realize that most content management systems are expensive to acquire, complex to implement and configure, and require more resources to maintain.

To address these issues, organizations may consider using Web site content management systems that are provided through the Software-as-a-Service model. By accessing the “software” as a service, organizations are spared the high initial cost of purchasing the license. Also, as the software is hosted, there is no hardware to buy and no software to buy and install. The subscription organization pays only fixed monthly or quarterly fees and leaves the task of managing, maintaining and updating the software to the vendor. This is extremely important for government organizations that have tight budgets and increasing Web site responsibilities.

Currently, CrownPeak manages Web content for the office of the United States Trade Representative, helping America’s chief trade negotiator and trade policy advisor manage an ongoing mix of Web site content. , maintain the indexing and categorization of different types of content, and support the accessibility and compliance of records management.

CrownPeak also helps the Commonwealth of Virginia manage the website that serves as the gateway to every Virginia government resource, with information ranging from government election data to travel and tourism . The vendor also provides a dedicated account manager, with an escalation path for support. By using a SaaS model, government organizations can also reduce their risk, and choose different features as the needs grow. In addition, as the bill is monthly or quarterly, the costs are spread over the entire life of the use of a product. This is an extremely attractive value proposition when compared to the traditional CMS model, where costs are paid in advance and the risk of the implementation and adoption of the product is entirely with the organization.

That is not all. CrownPeak Lifelong Active Support ensures that content management Best Practices are available at all times. It has been estimated that 91% of all support needs are not related to software and organizations that implement enterprise CMS will have to make additional investments to cover this need. CrownPeak Lifelong Active Support covers these requirements automatically giving you true comprehensive coverage of all support needs.

Accessible to all

Internet is a powerful and influential medium. By enabling visually challenged people to access Web sites, government and private organizations can take the lead in creating a future that allows every citizen to explore a vast world of information in a barrier-free manner. While it is a mandatory requirement for government organizations, it is a highly desirable social responsibility for others as well; and the CrownPeak Web content management system ensures that you don’t have to make a big dent in your budget to achieve this goal.

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