Virtual EMS Facility Scheduling Product Achieves ADA Compliance

Dean Evans & Associates' Internet-based query and request tool is first in the field to meet goals of Americans with Disabilities Act

11 Jun 2003

DENVER -- Dean Evans & Associates (www.dea.com) today announced that all of its Virtual EMS products have met the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was written to “establish a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability.” The specific requirements met by the Virtual EMS products are contained in the precursor to the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was amended and strengthened in 1998.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/act.htm) dictates that the “electronic and information technology” of Federal agencies must be accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and the public. A number of government entities, as well as many government-funded educational organizations, use the EMS system.

According to Kevin Raasch, executive vice president of Dean Evans & Associates, Virtual EMS is the first product in the facility scheduling and event management field to be fully ADA compliant. “To our knowledge, no other software provider in the industry is completely compliant with the spirit of the ADA or the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Surely they are moving in that direction, but we’re pleased to say that our company has reached an important milestone… that our Internet-based products are now fully accessible to people with disabilities.”

Virtual EMS is a tool used to create a connection between an organization’s Web site and their EMS facility scheduling database. There are three unique versions of the program. The company’s EMS Lite™, EMS Professional™ and EMS Enterprise™ products each have an associated Virtual EMS component. With all three versions, users are able to review online calendars and lists of events that are scheduled in a facility and also search for available space. The EMS Professional and EMS Enterprise versions have advanced features such as the ability to submit requests or reservations directly to the EMS database.

The six month project to make Virtual accessible to people with disabilities involved modifying a number of areas of the program based on the “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” published by the World Wide Web Consortium® (www.w3.org). For example, the guidelines dictate that all information conveyed using color must also be available without color.

This was an issue with the Virtual EMS “Reservation Book,” a tool that displays events as colored bars on a grid, each color representing a different event status. With the Section 508-compliant version of the product, special text-only browsers, such as Lynx, can read hidden programming “tags” to identify the status of the displayed events for users who have difficulty differentiating colors. Tags have also been added to identify field location and content in Virtual EMS so that specialized “screen reader” applications can interpret the information for users with visual disabilities.

Dean Evans & Associates measures the ADA compliance of Virtual EMS using the highly-regarded Watchfire® Bobby™ Website accessibility testing tool.

About Dean Evans & Associates

Founded in 1986 and based in Denver, Colo., Dean Evans & Associates develops, markets and supports a line of sophisticated software products for facility scheduling, event management and office hoteling. Their Event Management Systems (EMS) family of products is ideal for scheduling and managing the rooms, services and resources needed for events taking place in a wide variety of educational institutions, government sites and corporations. Thousands of organizations, including four of the six largest U.S. banks and more than a dozen Fortune 100 companies, rely on EMS software. Other users include conference and convention centers, cultural venues, sports facilities and churches. Online demonstrations of the software are available at www.dea.com, or call 1-800-440-3994 and ask to speak with Tom Schek.