REQUEST FOR EXTENSION OF TIME TO CONFORM TO BASELINE SECTION 508 ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS
UNDUE BURDEN REQUEST
Request for Extension of Time
Background Information: Accessibility Deadlines
In Coded Memorandum AA-2007-04, the CSU's Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI) sets forth the plans and multi-year timelines for all 23 CSU campuses to ensure that information technology resources, services and programs be made accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities in compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended) and California Government Code 11135. According to the Coded Memorandum:
"No later than September 1, 2007: New and updated administrative websites, web applications, and web content produced by the CSU or by third-party developers should, at a minimum, conform to baseline accessibility standards as defined in Section 508, Subpart B, and where appropriate, Subpart C."
In addition, the Coded Memorandum states:
"May 15, 2009: All administrative sites that are critical to institutional access (as established in the Web Accessibility Implementation Plan) should, at minimum, conform to baseline accessibility standards as defined in Section 508. If remediation or replacement of the website is not possible or would constitute an undue burden, then a plan to provide an equally effective alternate form of access must be developed, documented, and communicated."
Extension of Time Request
All requests for an extension of time beyond these CSU-established milestones to conform your website to baseline accessibility standards, as defined in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended) and California Government Code 11135, must be submitted, along with appropriate documentation, to the ATI Web Subcommittee for review. To request an Extension of Time, please complete the Request for Extension of Time form [link to form]. In your request, please provide the ATI Web Subcommittee with your plan and timeline for complying with website accessibility requirements.
SJSU Explanation for Extension of Time Request
It is recommended that units and departments experiencing significant difficulties in meeting the CSU timeline milestones apply for an "extension of time" to the ATI Web Subcommittee to achieve compliance. It is also possible to make an undue burden request; however, please read carefully the explanation of undue burden below.
The Extension of Time Request should include the circumstances that led the unit to request an extension, as well as its proposed plan and milestones for compliance. It should be noted that even with a request for an extension of time, ongoing progress toward compliance must still be made and documentation to achieve compliance must be submitted along with the request for extension. Most significantly, along with the extension of time request, an equally effective means of access must be provided to individuals with disabilities.
The ATI Web Subcommittee will review all requests, approve or return them, and advise the CSU of the outcomes. In the event a request is returned to the Department by the ATI Web Subcommittee, the committee will provide a list of recommendations and/or additional information required to be resubmitted for final consideration and determination. The goal of the extension of time and the review by ATI Web Subcommittee is to meet the baseline requirements of Section 508 Accessibility Standards and advise the CSU of compliance implementation.
Undue Burden Request
Background Information: Undue Burden
In its Coded Memorandum AA-2007-04, the CSU indicates:
"In all cases, if achieving accessibility is either not possible or would constitute an undue burden, then plans to provide equally effective alternative access must be developed, documented, and communicated." (Page 1)
When the CSU refers to "undue burden" in their Coded Memorandum, they reflect the provisions within the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. However, you should understand that determining an undue burden under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act is a very difficult threshold to meet. Unlike Title I of ADA (Employment), Section 508 requires that individuals with disabilities, who are members of the public seeking information or services from a federal agency, have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to the public who are not individuals with disabilities. The CSU is subject to California Government Code 11135 which brings into state law the discrimination and accessibility protections the ADA. It also codifies Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requiring accessibility of electronic and information technology.
The Access Board's standards provide some guidance on the definition of undue burden. Specifically, Section 1194.4 of the Section 508 Standards defines undue burden as:
"Undue burden means significant difficulty or expense. In determining whether an action would result in an undue burden, an agency shall consider all agency resources available to the program or component for which the product is being developed, procured, maintained, or used."
Even though the definition of "undue burden" in Section 508 involves "significant difficulty or expense," the detailed description states:
"In determining whether an action would result in an undue burden, the resources of the entire campus or perhaps even the whole CSU system would be considered."
Therefore, it is difficult to argue for an undue burden due to cost.
Because the Office of Civil Rights generally considers an institution's entire budget when reviewing claims of undue burden, the decision to invoke undue burden should be carefully weighed and sufficiently documented.
Undue Burden Request
To initiate the determination of whether a website component qualifies as an undue burden, the requestor will submit documentation to the ATI Web Subcommittee for review and recommendation. To request an Undue Burden, please complete the Request for Undue Burden form [link to form].
After the review, the ATI Web Subcommittee will forward the recommendation to the campus President and the appropriate Vice President. The President will have the final authority to approve or disapprove the undue burden request.
A copy of the final determination of the undue burden recommendation shall be retained by the ATI Web Subcommittee.
If an undue burden is approved, it is important to note that by statutory obligations SJSU must provide immediate alternative access to persons with disabilities.
Equally Effective Means of Access
SJSU must consider Section 508 standards even if there are no employees with disabilities who can currently use that technology.
If you are currently unable to make your website accessible, state and federal law require that you make information and data available by an alternative means of access. According to the law, plans to develop equally effective alternative access must immediately be developed, documented, and communicated.
Section 508, which details the standards for alterative means of access, is not designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities on an ad-hoc basis. Rather, its standards are designed to meet the needs of a broad cross-section of users with disabilities. Also, its focus is on the degree of accessibility of the technology itself, rather than on the accessibility of information and data.
Whereas our obligations under Sections 501 and 504 of the federal law are to prohibit discrimination and to provide a reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities, Section 508 requires us to achieve and maintain accessibility even if there are no employees or students with disabilities who would currently use the technology.
Thus, whether equally effective means of access is provided with technology or a reasonable accommodation, the statutory requirements of the Rehabilitation Act (as amended) and codified in California Government Code 11135 requires SJSU to provide equal access to individuals with disabilities.