The Executive Office of Health and Human Services is committed to making the Virtual Gateway accessible to all users. The Virtual Gateway is comprised of multiple business applications that support different user populations. Vendors who provide software development services for Virtual Gateway applications are required to deliver code that is compliant with the Web Accessibility Standards published by the Massachusetts Information Technology Division. These standards are compliant with Section 508 Guidelines and several elements of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) web content accessibility guidelines. Additionally, as specific areas for improvement in the system's usability are discovered, software enhancements to address the most significant of these areas will be undertaken.
In response to concerns raised regarding the usability of the Virtual Gateway, EOHHS is undertaking a variety of activities to improve the system's usability for vision-impaired users.
- An enhancement release to the Virtual Gateway Common Intake application is scheduled to "go live" in June, 2006. Common Intake is currently tested as compliant with both the Section 508 and ITD standards. However, discussions with users who are blind or have vision impairment have enabled EOHHS to identify areas for improvement. The majority of enhancements in the June 2006 release are to improve the usability of Common Intake beyond Section 508 and ITD Standards.
- EOHHS is investing in software testing tools and processes for all Virtual Gateway applications. EOHHS is also developing procedures and protocols to ensure delivery of software code that is compliant with Section 508 Guidelines.
- Beginning in FY07, all vendors who deliver software development services on behalf of any component of the Virtual Gateway will be required to deliver code that is compliant with Section 508 and the ITD Accessibility Standards. These standards are further elaborated in the EOHHS User Experience Guide, available at www.Mass.gov\hhs\tech\standards.
- EOHHS will reserve resources for investment in additional changes beyond those required by the standards in order to address critical usability issues.