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Oracle's Accessibility Philosophy and Policies

Accessibility has presented unique challenges to the Information Technology (IT) community as a whole due to the range of laws and guidelines related to it, certification requirements, and the need to validate inter-operability of IT with Assistive Technology (AT). Learn how Oracle is meeting those challenges below.

GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS

Oracle has created the Oracle Global HTML Accessibility Guidelines (OGHAG), which combine guidelines of Section 508 and the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 1.0 level double-A (WCAG 1.0 'AA').

In 1998, the U.S. Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 (29 U.S.C. '794d) was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. Section 508 applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, and many other government agencies have adopted all or most of the same provisions. Section 508, as it pertains to Oracle products, enumerates provisions that pertain to Software, Web pages, Multimedia, Documentation, and Support.

The W3C's commitment to lead the Web to its full potential includes promoting a high degree of usability for people with disabilities. The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) develops its work through W3C's consensus-based process, involving different stakeholders in Web accessibility. In 1999, the working group published the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 1.0, which is widely regarded as the international standard for Web accessibility. The OGHAG list includes guidelines at the WCAG 1.0 'AA' level, meaning that all Priority 1 and 2 standards are satisfied. Many Section 508 provisions are harmonized with WCAG 1.0 standards.

Both Section 508 and WCAG 1.0 are subject to interpretation and rapid aging. Several current standards from both Section 508 and WCAG 1.0, such as those that imply a ban on javascript, are particularly outdated. See Standards Interpretation for a detailed look at how Oracle addresses certain standards.

A rewrite of Section 508 is currently underway and Oracle is an active participant in the committee that is effecting those changes. Once this rewrite is complete, Oracle will evaluate how to uptake both the new section 508 and WCAG 2.0 which is now a W3C Recommendation.

Oracle is committed to building standards-based software to help customers reduce complexity and get the most out of existing technology investments, and this commitment extends to our approach to accessibility. Oracle uses industry-standard technologies such as HTML, javascript and Java to render most user interfaces, allowing support for all assistive technology (AT) devices, such as screen readers and magnifiers, that are designed to interoperate with those same programming languages. In contrast, some vendors rely on proprietary programming languages and custom object models, and special accessibility scripts, which limit your AT options to a small set of products. We view scripting as something that is primarily intended for an individual user to do, in order to optimize their experience with the product based on their unique tasks; only in exceptional cases do we provide scripts to optimize certain aspects of an interface.

ACCESSIBILITY STATUS

The accessibility status of each Oracle product is reported in a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT). Because products are on different release cycles, or may have been recently acquired, not all Oracle products meet all of the guidelines. See Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates for the current status of any particular product of interest.

Although the VPAT was originally intended to report Section 508 status, additional content is added if a product also meets WCAG 1.0 AA guidelines, or if those guidelines do not apply because the product does not use HTML.

ACCESSIBILE CUSTOMER SERVICE PLAN FOR ONTARIO, CANADA

Oracle's Accessible Customer Service Plan for Ontario, Canada outlines the policies, practices and procedures approved by Oracle in order to meet the obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) and specifically Regulation 429/07.