December 1, 1999
Mr. Charles Crawford
American Council of the Blind
1155 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
Dear Mr. Crawford:
This is in response to your letter to the Attorney General. Your letter addressed two issues: 1) your letter dated September 7, 1999, concerning a complaint against the Maryland Highway Administration by xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx; and 2) the Department of Justice's use of the computer software "Quattro Pro."
The Civil Rights Division has no record that we received either your letter concerning the installation of accessible pedestrian signals or a complaint from xxx xxxxxxx on the same issue. Our records indicate that we did receive a photocopy of a letter concerning the Maryland Department of Transportation from xxx xxxxxxx, but that letter did not constitute a complaint.
xxx xxxxxxx may have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), which is the agency responsible for investigating alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act that involve services and regulatory activities relating to transportation, including traffic management. Because DOT has been designated to investigate complaints relating to transportation, the Department will refer your current letter pertaining to this complaint to DOT for appropriate action.
If you have any questions concerning this referral, you may contact DOT at the following address:
Mr. Ronald Stroman
Departmental Office of Civil Rights
Office of the Secretary
U.S. Department of Transportation
400 7th Street, S.W., Room 10215
Washington, D.C. 20590
Telephone: (202) 366-4648
The second issue raised in your letter concerns the accessibility of "Quattro Pro," the spreadsheet software used by the Department. You have suggested that the Department test this program to determine its acceptability under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 508, as amended, requires each federal agency to ensure that electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the agency is accessible to people with disabilities. The Department is committed to complying with section 508. However, because the technical standards for determining section 508 compliance have not yet been published, it is not possible to make that determination now.
Section 508 requires the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) to develop standards for accessibility for electronic and information technology. Those standards are now being developed. Until the standards become final, it is not possible to determine if specific software "complies" with section 508.
Section 508 also requires the Department of Justice to conduct a survey of the current accessibility of federal government information technology and to report its findings and recommendations to the President in February 2000. To fulfill this obligation, the Department developed a comprehensive survey package that included detailed surveys of web pages, software, information transaction machines, and other equipment. The Department used this package to conduct a self-evaluation of its own information technology, including a survey of its computer software. The data collected are now being analyzed along with the data collected by other agencies. This data will form the basis of the Department's report to the President and will be considered in ensuring that the Department complies with section 508 in our future software purchases.
I hope this information is helpful to you. Please do not hesitate to contact the Department if we can be of assistance in other matters.
John L. Wodatch
Disability Rigths Section>