CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Gertrude W Abramson

Committee Member

Ling Wang

Committee Member

Qi Wang

Abstract

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 took effect in 2001 and provides encouragement for universal design and compliance requirements to the federal sector for purchases that are accessible by people with disabilities. A division of General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems (GDAIS) is located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and provides electronic and information technology solutions to federal customers in the defense, intelligence, and homeland security communities.

The general lack of training is a major factor for low compliance to Section 508. Improving awareness is important at GDAIS in order to increase its federal sales market share, develop new products and services, transfer technology to other fields, and support a global market for users with different human conditions. The study aimed to implement a computer-based training program for design engineers and managers within GDAIS to foster universal design skills and increase accessibility awareness.

The four-level model created by Donald L. Kirkpatrick was utilized to evaluate the training. Survey, test, and interview instruments were designed to evaluate the reaction, learning, and behavior of the participants. An expert panel provided validation and reliability of the instruments. A case study methodology was used to analyze Section 508 compliance in depth for four months. Also analyzed were the possible effects of the training on the engineering design, the organization both financial and cultural, and the individual.

Learning of the standards and universal design concepts through better application of usability and accessibility features were improved. While the training did improve compliance slightly, there was a lack of Section 508 inclusion within solicitations. The organizational culture to support the disabled community showed a possibility of improving through awareness and education.

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