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In 1998, Section 508 (Sec. 508) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was amended, requiring Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities—to provide “comparable access” to data and information for people with disabilities to those without disabilities.
The General Services Administration (GSA) provides technical assistance to Federal agencies and the general public in many forms such as, but not limited to, policy support, training, coordination, and showcasing of assistive technologies.
The BuyAccessible/BeAccessible program is part of GSA’s commitment to provide standard processes and tools to support government-wide compliance with Section 508. These tools and processes were developed by industry stakeholders’ determination on how to best implement the Section 508 standards.
As part of technical assistance, GSA’s Section 508 team monitors a sample of agency solicitations to gain insight into how well Section 508 accessibility requirements are considered in procurements with electronic and information technology (EIT) deliverables. The results of this assessment are provided to agencies with suggestions on how to improve their performance. Each solicitation is graded on how well it complies with Section 508 requirements. Feedback letters are then sent to the solicitation point of contact and the agency’s Section 508 Coordinator. Details of how that grade was obtained included in a checklist [DOC] [PDF] of 508 requirements and common errors. The checklist indicates what agencies did right, did not do, and did wrong in the solicitation document.
The BuyAccessible System has three components, all made available to any agency at no cost to help with the quick, easy, and efficient implementation of all Section 508 standards.
- The BuyAccessible Wizard which can help you when purchasing Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) products and services to determine if Section 508 applies to your purchase or to find accessibility information. The BuyAccessible Wizard can help with your market research— and even has tools to write your solicitation language.
- Quick Links can be found at the Buy Accessible site. Quick Links are pre packaged Section 508 information on frequently purchased EIT items. Included is a pre filled Government Product Accessibility Template (GPAT) and Section 508 solicitation language. This can be used if you are making a Micro Purchase or if you common information for a larger purchanse.
- The Vendor Accessibility Resource Center a comprehensive listing of Electronic and Iinformation Technology (EIT) vendors with URLs to their company accessibility information or VPATS to help you with your market research.
The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) the most common format vendors can use to describe how their products and services conform to the EIT accessibility standard. The VPAT is a form created by industry and can be requested as part of a solicitation making it mandatory for the vendor to submit with their bid. Information on the VPAT can be found at www.itic.org
Some BuyAccessible.gov features:
- Training for Buyers
- Training for Sellers
- BuyAccessible Glossary
- Buy Accessible Wizard
- Vendor Resource Center (ARC)
- Quick Links
- Acquisition Central
- Federal Acquisition Regulations
- and much more!