USAJOBS vs Section 508

It's never truly comforting, but the aphorism "there's always someone worse off than you" can at least make you take a more circumspect view of your own place in the world, if only for a short time. In the past I've been critical of the UK government for producing inaccessible websites, both because it's the wrong thing to do, and because it fails to meet the government's own standards. But this morning I came across USAJOBS (external link), "the official job site of the United States Federal Government". For once the UK government almost shines in comparison.

Can someone please tell me if I'm missing something here? It's like going back in time. I can hear Prince singing 1999 in the background, Boo.com are burning their way through $100 million, IT contractors the world over are filling their pockets as business panics about the millennium bug. And USAJOBS is being built. At least that's what it looks like to me.

Just how can the Federal Government, responsible for Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (external link), procure and promote such a poor service? I'm not going to list the problems the site has, just go and have a quick look yourself. Treat it like one of those puzzles where they give you a target score for making words out of a bundle of letters. Your target is 6,744.

In my opinion this type of failure does more damage to the accessibility cause than anything else. USAJOBS should be an exemplar of accessible design. How can we expect businesses and web developers to take accessibility seriously when there is such a fundamental lack of adherence to standards by the very body that sets those standards?

Comments

No surprise to me. Most US sites required to comply with sect 508 don't. Most suck, actually. Even some of the sites laying down the law don't comply themselves. Not even close. In my eyes the UK is far superior to the US in this regard.

Posted by: Mike Cherim at February 8, 2007 11:03 PM

Coincidentally Jakob Nielsen briefly picked up on this site in his latest Alertbox:
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/government-nonprofit.html

Posted by: duncan at February 12, 2007 3:38 PM

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