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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

Chapter 3—Policies Affecting All Publications

Any research, development, and technology publication, Web site, or other communication product—including published, printed, reprinted, electronic, and Internet material, and CD-ROMs sponsored or funded by FHWA RD&T offices—must be published or posted through HRTM. This ensures compliance with various publishing guidelines and Federal regulations, consistency across products, and high standards for both academic and general communications. (Refer to the FHWA Publications and Printing Handbook.) The HRTM Communications and Outreach Team sets guidelines for publishing RD&T communication products and has coordinated with other offices involved in the process, including RD&T staff managers, FHWA Office of Public Affairs, and FHWA publishing services.

Note: The Office of Public Affairs must 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 RD&T reports, which must go through the HRTM editorial process.

Recognizing the important role that information plays in Federal and non-Federal decisionmaking, Congress passed the Data Quality Act as part of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001. In brief, the Data Quality Act (also known as the Information Quality Law) requires all Federal agencies to strive toward issuing the highest quality information that is accurate, timely, and responsive to the needs of the public. The act also requires agencies to provide a means for the public to "challenge" information that appears to be inaccurate, or that does not comply with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) "Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies."

In addition to the Freedom of Information Act, the Paperwork Reduction Act, the Paperwork Elimination Act, the Data Quality Act, and the Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, about using plain language, products must comply with current policy requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (see below) for electronic information and technology dissemination.

Under Federal law (Title 44 of U.S. Code), all printing and duplicating must be done through the Government Printing Office (GPO). No more than 10 copies may be generated outside a GPO contract. In addition, a document published by USDOT must be prepared in accordance with the instructions and guidelines provided in the latest versions of the GPO Style Manual, USDOT and FHWA orders as summarized in the most recent version of the FHWA Publications and Printing Handbook, and the accessibility requirements in Section 508 of the 1998 amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Electronic Publishing of Communication Products

Each time you prepare a publication for printing, you also must prepare an electronic version for online use on an FHWA Web site. All electronic and Internet publications must be compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Electronic documents must be placed on an approved Web site URL or a Web address (such as www.fhwa.dot.gov/); please ensure that your electronic files are formatted correctly.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act states that all electronic products produced by Government agencies must be accessible to persons with disabilities, including those persons with vision, hearing, cognitive, and mobility impairments. The Paper Reduction Act and FHWA require that printed publications must be available in electronic format; final printed documents must provide minimum 508 Compliance requirements.

Section 508 affects all communication products published by FHWA in print or electronic format. All FHWA publications must conform to the requirements outlined in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Federal IT Accessibility Initiative (www.section508.gov). See www.access-board.gov/508.htm for more information about Section 508 guidelines. The following research, development, and technology products are affected by Section 508:

  • Electronic documents, reports, brochures, etc., which are the main final products of FHWA research and development (see www.access-board.gov, "Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications (1194.22)").

  • CDs and any electronic files, databases, report databases, and applications housed on them or used to install them, such as an install shield program (see www.access-board.gov, "Software Applications and Operating Systems (1194.21)," and "Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications (1194.22)").

  • PowerPoint presentations if they are distributed through CD, Web, etc.—and if they contain graphic elements that need a text-based alternative (such as hypertext markup language (HTML) or an ASCII text file).

Note: A PowerPoint presentation that is presented live by a speaker would be considered accessible, because the speaker is available for any questions about graphic content. However, that same presentation distributed on a CD-ROM, without the benefit of a speaker present, must have an accessible text version for any non-text element provided on the CD-ROM.

  • Movies, videos, audio files and Web movies (see www.access-board.gov, "Video and Multimedia Products (1194.24)," "Software Applications and Operating Systems (1194.21)," and "Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications (1194.22)." When a Web page requires that an applet, plug-in, see http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.22.htm#(m)).

  • Web files including database applications/research databases, search engines, and interactive tools (see www.access-board.gov, "Software Applications and Operating Systems (1194.21)," and "Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications (1194.22)").

  • Stand-alone (or unmanned) kiosks such as a computer or television screen showing a presentation or video at a conference or trade show (see www.access-board.gov, "Video and Multimedia Products (1194.24)" and "Self Contained, Closed Products (1194.25)").

Ensuring Contractor Publication Compliance

Communicate the importance of contractors preparing documents and provide the Web site addresses listed above. The information should be attached to all statements of work and contracts for preparing publications, Web sites, multimedia presentations, and other electronic communication products. While Section 508 currently does not apply to one-time purchases of $2,500 or less, you are strongly encouraged to comply with the applicable accessibility standards. Please note that if your intent is to print or publish the final product on a Web site, it must meet the 508 accessibility requirements for electronic posting regardless of the dollar value of the purchased product.

If your contract calls for HTML file delivery in addition to a Microsoft Word file, see chapters 4 and 8, "Guidelines and Styles for All Publications," and "Electronic Publishing," and coordinate with HAIM-40, HAIM-20, or HRTM-3 for additional guidance. Before being HTML-coded and deployed, any new RD&T Web publication or Web site must be edited in Microsoft Word format by the HRTM editors.

Note: Contract deliverable schedules shall include sufficient time for editing and the editorial process through HRTM.

Chapter 2—HRTM Service and Submission Process
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