Category Archives: DQP

01Apr/13

Section 508 (Website Accessibility)

Section 508Working with Lane Community College I have to make sure my work conforms to Section 508.  Very big deal for education, and anyone who wants their website available to the widest possible market, really.  It used to be that blind folks and people with certain disabilities were just kind of ignored as far as the web goes.  That’s not the case anymore.  Screen readers have come a long way.  Just for fun I used the accessibility functions on my iPad last week.  It’s pretty amazing just how clear of a picture you can get of a web page without your eyes assuming all the proper “stuff” has been done.  Doing the audit on the DQP website really opened my eyes (no pun intended). 

Officially the law only requires government agency web sites to be accessible, but, if you have a web site, why would you not want those who need assistive technology to be able to use your website.  Even if the only thing on your website is your name, phone number and address, you still want the blind guy across town to spend money at your place of business, right?  Imagine if all your competitors don’t have the forethought to do the work on their website and yours is the only one the aforementioned blind guy across town can read…

Anyway, here’s some official stuff about Section 508.

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, open new opportunities for people with disabilities, and encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. ‘794 d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to access available to others. It is recommended that you review the laws and regulations listed below to further your understanding about Section 508 and how you can support implementation.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. ‘794 d), as amended by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (P.L. 105 – 220), August 7, 1998

(original source in uscode.house.gov)

If you would like an audit done on your website, and a quote on making sure those with disabilities can use it, shoot me an email.  I’m happy to spend a little time.

22Mar/13

Google ChromeFrame

In my new day job, I came across a problem today that I had never seen.  The application I’m working on requires an inordinate amount of JavaScript (in the form of jQuery).  Basically I’m display large amounts of data from a database in a graphical form using jQuery Spidergraphs.  The problem I ran into is that large institutions, such as LCC, are still using Internet Explorer 8 on Windows XP machines because of other software limitations.  The particular jQuery that I’m using needs the <canvas> HTML5 tag in order to display the data, and IE8 doesn’t even know what the <canvas> tag is about.  

After a couple hours of beating my head against the wall and trying different DOCTYPE declarations, I finally figured out that it was in fact the lack of <canvas> that was my problem.  A co-working pointed me to ChromeFrame.  This nifty little script looks at the browser that’s loading a page and, if it’s IE that doesn’t support <canvas> (and other things) it throws up a warning and offers to install a little utility to help you out.  Once you say ok, everything works just like it’s supposed to.  Pretty good time saver.  Not sure why everyone doesn’t just install it.

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18Mar/13

DQP (The Degree Qualifications Profile)

The DQP Project in Oregon is a joint effort of all seven Oregon University System (OUS) institutions and the state’s seventeen independent community colleges to develop the Degree Qualifications Profile for Oregon. The DQP Project in Oregon will provide a descriptive curricular framework for describing institutions’ degree outcomes across the state, both in their unique characters and in their shared aspects. The project relates directly to the missions of each institution to support their students’ success during college, upon graduation, and in transitions within the Oregon educational system. This statewide partnership of educational institutions has the active support from both the Oregon University System (OUS) Chancellor and the Oregon Community Colleges and Workforce Development (CCWD) Commissioner.”

Now that we have the “official explanation”, here’s why I’m talking about it.  I have been hired for the duration of the DQP grant to act as DQP Web Applications Developer working on-site at Lane Community College.  The project is pretty cool.  Lots of technology and lots of awesome people in the IT department at Lane.  

I started full time with them early in December 2012 and will be there until sometime mid-2015 working on this and other related projects.  The DQP is my core responsibility, so that’s what I’ll talk about here.  I’m going to break it up by section though.  Otherwise this would be one really long post.  

The website itself is set up so that member institutions have one place to go to get and store information on the DQP program.  There is a public side (with public data for everyone to see) and a secure side (where the institutions go to input data that feeds the public side).  

screenshot_16

The design of the site is pretty basic.  Logo, mega-menu, breadcrumbs, custom PHP stuff, footer menu…  The entire site layout is CSS with tables being used ONLY for tabular data.  Just the way it’s supposed to be.  I took a lot of time to make sure it loads properly in recent browsers (back to IE 8) and loads quickly considering how much “stuff” is going on behind the scenes.  

Stay tuned for posts about specific areas of the website.  It’s pretty cool stuff.  

If you want, you can check out the DQP at http://www.oregondqp.org