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An Accessibility Evaluation of the Secure Message Center Application

Lawrence A. Malakhoff

KEY WORDS: accessibility, Secure Message Center, Internet, screen-reader, Federal regulations, user-interface evaluation


At times the Census Bureau needs to communicate with survey respondents in a secure manner. To provide the necessary security, the Census Bureau is developing the Secure Message Center (SMC) application. The concept of operation is for the respondent to create an account on the SMC, read his or her message, and respond if needed. For all users to be able to send and receive messages in the SMC, the application must conform to Federal accessibility regulations. According to the Federal regulations, computer users who have visual and/or other disabilities are entitled to have the same access as users who do not currently have any disabilities. To assess the compliance of the SMC prototype, the present evaluation was performed in October 2007 using the Job Access With Speech (JAWS) screen-reader, software used by people with visual disabilities. The evaluation revealed, for example, that labels for the NEXT and CANCEL buttons below the email data-entry field are not detected by JAWS, and two sort function icons are inaccessible on the mailbox screen. These omissions violate the Federal regulations. This report uses screen shots to illustrate how compliance with Federal regulations can be accomplished, and it includes recommendations to improve the accessibility of the SMC user interface.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Research Division

Created: May 19, 2008
Last revised: May 19, 2008

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Statistical Research Division | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: October 08, 2010