Recovery.gov, a showcase government-transparency Web site that relaunched on Monday, fails to meet U.S. federal government Section 508 accessibility standards and accessibility best practices. The non-compliance issues relate to display of data tables — an essential point given the site’s promise of “Data, Data & More Data” — despite on-site compliance claims. Other elements including navigation maps, while compliant, are poorly designed. Sharron Rush, co-founder and executive director of accessibility-advocacy organization Knowbility, goes so far as to state, “The recovery.gov Web site is a good example of what NOT to do for accessibility in my opinion.”
Louise Radnofsky explains in the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog, “Expectations are high for the site, not least because of its hefty price tag: Smartronix, a Maryland contractor, is being paid $9.5 million for its initial overhaul and is likely to get another $8.5 million to keep the site running through 2014.” Compliance with Section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act — a baseline expectation — is a long-standing federal-government requirement for information-systems accessibility to persons with disabilities. The site’s accessibility failures — which are shared by another showcase government-transparency site, USAspending.gov — are nonetheless easily seen.