U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations
|This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information|
Publication Number: FHWA-RD-03-074
Communications Reference Guide
Electronic publishing refers to any document or published item that is not printed on paper. Examples are CD-ROMs, Web pages, Web sites, publications, and multimedia presentations (such as Microsoft PowerPoint presentations containing slides, sounds, and movies/videos such as .avi or .mov files).
Multimedia options that provide special graphic enhancement, multimedia effects, or interactive applications can also be prepared. If you need special video or audio effects for a presentation, video wall, or other item, contact HAIM-20 or HRTM-3 for assistance. Keep in mind that multimedia presentations such as Microsoft PowerPoint, videos, and .mov files must also be compliant with Section 508, and they follow a different set of rules than those used for Web page or database software applications. See the Access Board's Section 508 Web site for more information.
Hypertext markup language (HTML) format is the required electronic format for all FHWA publications. It can be used to create a range of document styles, from simple, text-only items to those with elaborate graphics. Documents in HTML format adapt to different screen sizes and computer characteristics. In addition, HTML documents are easily searchable by Internet search engines and can be used by assistive devices, such as screen readers that "read" the code on a Web page and translate it into audio format for people who have vision disabilities. See information about CD-ROMs below and for Web site publishing.
Portable document format (PDF) can be prepared for a publication in addition to HTML format. If you want users to be able to print your document on their desktop printers so that it looks exactly like the original, consider also providing a PDF choice. However, PDF does not adapt as readily to individual computer formats, nor is it considered an "accessible" format for complying with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
For every publication created as an Adobe Acrobat® PDF file there also must be a Section 508 compliant HTML document. This is a requirement for files on the Internet, CD-ROMs, or StaffNet. If a PDF or other format is desired, it may be prepared and posted on an FHWA Web site along with the HTML version of the publication.
HRTM will work with HAIM to convert your file to PDF format. However, you still must provide Section 508 text for non-text elements, and must review the final PDF document very carefully. The automated conversion process can add unexpected errors to a document.
Zip files are preferred for large file downloads of 1 MB or larger. The group responsible for submitting the material should prepare the zip file to ensure proper integrity of its contents. A "read me" file with information regarding the material contained in the zip file, instructions (if needed), and contact information must be included. All files that are "zipped" into a zip file must individually be Section 508 compliant, including documents, presentations, multimedia, videos, movies, software, and software install shield programs.
Note: HRTM works with the Office of Public Affairs to provide initial and final clearance approvals for all publications—even if the publication will be published only electronically or on the Internet. This includes CD-ROMs, multimedia documents, and Internet-only publications. The only exception to this is research and technology technical reports, which must go through the HRTM editorial process.
Overhead transparencies, slide shows, Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, flipcharts, and similar visual aids are used to enhance and support a presentation and highlight and reinforce the important points of a presentation. Hard copies of the visual aids can be made as handouts to accompany a presentation. However, any CD-ROMs or electronic documents that are distributed at a presentation must be Section 508 compliant. PowerPoint presentations that are distributed from a Web site or CD-ROM also must be Section 508 compliant.
The technical expert/presenter is responsible for developing the material and ensuring that the information presented is factually accurate and in agreement with FHWA policy. At a minimum, a technical review by at least one peer within a division or program work group is recommended. In addition, it is recommended that the division chief approve the presentation.
HRTM offers editorial and graphic design services, or administrative assistants in your office may develop presentations using current presentation software. The presenter is responsible for the appropriate technical reviews and for ensuring that a presentation is proofread for spelling and calculation errors. Either an HRTM contractor or a task order contractor with a private vendor (budgeted at the office level) can be coordinated through HRTM and is another source for presentation development.
When using PowerPoint presentations or overhead transparencies, the USDOT/FHWA logo must be used as an identifying factor. A sample of the logo is contained in appendix M.
It is best to include a headline and use only one idea for each visual. Ideas and relationships should be simple. A balance of words, charts, and graphics should be used to make presentations visually appealing. For readability, the type should be san serif (for example, Arial font style) and no smaller than 24 point.
If the presentation deals with policy issues, the office director or designate is responsible for making sure the implications are in agreement with management policies.
Timeframes for presentations developed in-house are the responsibility of the requesting office. When using HRTM services, expect about 2 weeks for turnaround, depending on length and scope of presentation.
Notes: In addition to the above submission requirements and depending on the product and distribution of that product, other Section 508 guidelines may apply. For example:
A video or movie in a presentation may fall under the "Video and Multimedia Products (1194.24)" under the Access Board's Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section. See http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.24.htm.
Any multimedia file also must include software applications to run or view it (i.e., movie or media players, browsers, Adobe Acrobat Readers,® PowerPoint readers, Microsoft Word readers, etc.) as executable zipped download files on the Web site and/or the CD-ROM and the software also must follow the "Software Applications and Operating Systems (1194.21)" under the Access Board's Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section. See http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.21.htm.
Presentations, movies, etc., accessible through an HTML or other Web interface must follow the "Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications (1194.22)" under the Access Board's Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section. See www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.22.htm
CD-ROMs or zip files will need a readme.txt ASCII file with file structure breakdown, information about install shield program for software applications to run or view the media information (i.e., movie or media players, browsers, Adobe Acrobat Readers, PowerPoint readers, Microsoft Word readers, etc.)
If the electronic information or multimedia is presented on an unmanned kiosk such as at a trade show or event, the equipment may be considered a "stand-alone kiosk" and as such may fall under the "Self Contained, Closed Products (1194.25)" under the Access Board's Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section. See http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.25.htm
CD-ROM publishing provides a multimedia communications solution that may contain components of audio, video, text, and animation. CD-ROM publishing either may supplement existing print material or be used as a stand-alone product. CD-ROMs will store up to 650 MB of information.
All files copied on CD-ROMs must be Section 508 accessible, including software, install shield programs, database models, PDF files, HTML files, Microsoft Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, plug-ins (i.e., reader programs, and other audio and visual programs). Refer to chapter 3 of this manual for information about Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Contact HRTM before moving forward with duplicating and disseminating any CD-ROM product.
All text, data, and CD-ROM production specifications should undergo a technical review to ensure accuracy and policy compliance. Slipcover text and artwork, and "read me" or help text, should be reviewed by HRTM.
Testing and quality control of any CD-ROM product is necessary and important. Before the final press of the CD-ROM, a copy of the CD-ROM should be reviewed and tested by the originating office. This testing should involve:
In addition, you must work with the Section 508 group, HAIM, and the HAIM Web manager to test and verify Section 508 compliance of any software product.
All policies listed in this guide, except for those affecting printing, apply to information posted on CD-ROMs, including the need to edit documents for distribution outside the Agency. Sign-offs will be required verifying the material to be published on the CD-ROM has met GPO Style Manual and FHWA style guidelines, policy guidelines, and is technically accurate.
Consult HRTM before moving forward on your CD-ROM project. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act states that agencies can only create or purchase CD-ROMs that people using assistive technology can access. Section 508 outlines specific requirements for software and information technology.
Actual content style of the CD-ROM will vary based on the authoring program used by the contractor. However, the duplicated CD-ROM should include:
CD-ROM publishing, like other publishing formats, requires ample time for drafts, revisions, and testing. Because each RD&T office is currently contracting out most CD-ROM duplications, the contractor should be able to provide the best time estimate based on the work, scope, and effort.
Generally, HRTM provides a resource list for duplication services.
Notes: Software and database models fall under the "Software Applications and Operating Systems (1194.21)" under the Access Board's Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section. See http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.21.htm.
Models, model databases, and software applications that also will be accessible through an HTML or other Web interface also must follow the "Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications (1194.22)" under the Access Board's Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section. See www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.22.htm.
Any self-extracting executable program or installation/install shield program must be 508 compliant and follow the software guidelines listed above.
Web site publishing can be used as a primary route of publication, a secondary source of publication, or as a supplemental source of information. The Web provides an electronic medium that offers graphical interface, instantaneous transmission, and multimedia presentation materials. Web site publishing is especially useful for documents containing information that needs to be issued quickly, that may change rapidly, or that is of interest but is seldom used. You also may want to consider Web site publishing if you have a small audience, for example, fewer than 500 readers. If your document fits any of these categories, it may be most appropriate to create an HTML-coded, Web-only document for an FHWA Web site. Again, make sure that your specifications for your electronic publication include Section 508 guidelines.
To avoid duplicate production costs, program offices provide publications for Web site display only. Keep in mind that a high-quality Web design can be just as costly as a printed design. You should expect an electronic HTML file to have a different look and layout from that of a printed document for two reasons:
Web projects may face posting delays from the following: number of complex tables, equations, and figures; number of pages; missing 508 captions; COTR final review; and other jobs in the queue at the same time.
The FHWA Chief Information Officer (CIO) must approve new FHWA Web sites, in addition to purchase and use of new Web site domain names (i.e., www.webname.org, www.webname.com, www.webname.gov, etc.), and the Office of Information and Management Services' Information Technology Division (HAIM-40) must approve the final HTML code and design before any Web sites are posted "live."
Note: Contractors and FHWA personnel who will perform HTML coding or will accept a final deliverable comprised of "HTML files" shall ensure that, after editing, all HTML files are coded according to both FHWA requirements and the requirements put forth by the Access Board (see Access Board's "Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology" and FHWA's "Minimum Requirements" for additional information). Contact HRTM-3 or HAIM for an HTML template with standard HTML header and footer codes to use for reports and new Web sites that will be posted on the TFHRC or FHWA Web site.
Please contact HRTM for specific requirements before creating or preparing material for the TFHRC Web site. Electronic publishing guidelines frequently evolve or change as a result of legislation and the dynamic development of electronic communications technologies. The Office of Public Affairs and HAIM's Web group must review all new materials.
In an effort to achieve greater quality, usability, and consistency, FHWA's Information Technology Division (HAIM-40) has established these minimum technical standards that must be met by all FHWA Web pages. Web documents that do not meet these standards will not be posted:
HRTM also will assist you with your request and work with you and HAIM to process your Web site request. If a contractor is preparing the material for Web publishing, the COTR must ensure that the contractor has received the most current set of guidelines from HRTM or HAIM before starting the HTML programming phase.
In addition to being edited by HRTM, all material posted on the Web must be reviewed, including a technical (accuracy and policy) review, and the appropriate office director must provide written endorsement to publish/post the material on the TFHRC or FHWA Web site. Each office should establish its own process for reviewing documents for technical soundness, accuracy, and adherence to policy; this process should contain the necessary checks and balances, and coordination with other appropriate offices and individuals, to ensure that FHWA continues to publish high-quality materials. The office director is responsible for all content related to his/her office and functional areas for which he/she is responsible.