The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is committed to making every document on its Website accessible to the widest possible audience, including persons with visual disabilities. The agency's new Website redesign strives to ensure NGA meets or exceeds the requirements of Section 508 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Many of our pages now meet the standard but we are continually working to make all pages accessible.
Section 508 requires that federal agencies' electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public. Section 508 establishes requirements for any electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Federal government. More information on Section 508 and the technical standards can be found at www.section508.gov.
While the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) used to create Websites is generally accessible for persons using screen reading devices, you need to be careful in the construction of HTML documents to ensure maximum accessibility. Essentially everything that you need to know about Web page accessibility is found on the Website of the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative.
Adobe Acrobat PDF Files
Many of the documents on our Web server are in basic HTML format. These formats are generally accessible to persons using screen reading software. We also have a large number of documents as Adobe Acrobat PDF (Portable Document Format) files.
Persons using screen reading devices generally cannot directly read documents in PDF format. Adobe Systems, Inc., provides a free translation service through their Access Web pages which will translate PDF files to Web pages (HTML documents). This can be used in one of three ways:
The user can go to the Access server and fill out a form. When this form is submitted, the server will go get the PDF document, translate it, and return it to the user.
The user can send an email message to the Access server, giving the address of the document to be translated. The server will then get this document and translate it to either a Web page or a text (ASCII) document. Note that this is the only one of the three options that also gives the ability to produce a text document from the PDF file. (Click here for Adobe Instructions)
For systems which are not connected to the Internet, Adobe has a free downloadable accessibility plug-in, called Adobe Access, for use with the latest versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader for Microsoft Windows 3.1, Windows 95/98, or Windows NT. This plug-in helps to overcome some of the problems of reading PDF documents with screen readers, but for systems with Internet access, Adobe recommends using the on-line Access translation service instead.
You can download Acrobat Reader here.
These methods of making PDF files accessible are adequate for many documents. However, they are not adequate for PDF documents in which content is included in graphics files or for especially complex formatting. In these cases, we provide an alternative format for use with screen readers -- an HTML version -- where possible.
We have one general exception to our policy of making accessible versions available for all PDF documents. We are using the Adobe Acrobat PDF format as a means of distributing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents. These are electronic images of the forms which are intended to be printed and used as any other paper form, and do not lend themselves to any non-graphical representation