GSA Government-wide Section 508 Accessibility Program

Section 508 Transition Support Initiative

The General Services Administration, the CIO Council Accessibility Community of Practice (ACoP), and the US Access Board have teamed up to guide federal agencies through implementing the New 508 Standards consistently across government.

The 508 Transition Workgroup is co-led by CIO Council Accessibility Community of Practice (Robert Baker, DHS), and the US Access Board (Marsha Mazz). GSA's government-wide Section 508 Program, led by John Sullivan, provides management resources, facilitation and coordination for the transition effort. The Workgroup is comprised of experienced Section 508 leaders from multiple agencies who seek common guidance that can be tailored to agency needs.

The New 508 Standards and the Technology Accessibility Playbook provide a foundation for transition planning (see chart below for more information on the structure of the Workgroup).

Over the next several months, guidance will be published on the Section 508 Refresh Toolkit as follows. We will keep you informed through our communication channels when new guidance is made available. In support of the Toolkit:

  • The US Access Board is providing overall guidance and training on understanding the new standards
  • The Policy and Life Cycle Subgroup is providing the following implementation guidance:
    • Draft policy language to address what has changed in the new standards
    • Guidance for inserting activities to implement the new 508 standards into existing agency life cycle activities
    • Key contact: Debby Kaplan, deborah.kaplan@hhs.gov
  • The “How To” Subgroup is providing the following implementation guidance and checklists:
    • How to document user needs (accessibility planning)
    • How to determine applicability of the standards
    • How to assess overall conformance with standards
    • How to collect conformance data from vendors
    • How to evaluate conformance data provided by vendors
    • How to determine “best meets” when claiming commercial non-availability
    • Key contact: Robert Baker, robert.baker@hq.dhs.gov
  • The Development and Authoring Subgroup is providing the following implementation guidance:
    • Tools, Resources, FAQs and Guidelines for Design, Development, Authoring, Testing, and Monitoring of WCAG comforting electronic content
    • Key contact: Allen Hoffman, allen.hoffman@hq.dhs.gov
  • The GSA 508 Team is supporting the following:
    • Changes to the FAR
    • Updated guidance and checklists on how to determine what ICT is and how to determine when exceptions apply under the new standards, updating Quick Links, and refreshing the Buy Accessible Tool
    • Role-based training, including an updated Section 508 Introduction course and courses based on role (e.g., PM, developer, author, procurement official)
    • Guidance on increasing awareness and support for the new standards at the CIO level
In addition, two existing CIO Council Accessibility Community of Practice activities will be aligned to support of the transition to the new standards:
  • The Integrated Trusted Tester Program (ITTP) Workgroup is focused on updating the ITTP Baseline to support web and software WCAG conformance testing
  • The Accessible Electronic Documents Community of Practice (AEDCOP) is focused on expanding the existing testing guidance which can be used to test for WCAG conformance for Microsoft Office Documents and Adobe PDF documents

This is a significant undertaking and the Workgroup is focused on delivering guidance as soon as possible. If you would like us to address additional topics related to the new 508 Standards that are not already mentioned above, please contact Robert Baker at robert.baker@hq.dhs.gov.

The Section 508 Transition Support Initiative is divided into three groups. First, Outreach, which is made up of the 508 Transition Communications Plan (GSA 508 Team), the 508 Transition Section on Section508.gov (GSA 508 Team), 508 Transition Training (GSA 508 Team).  Second, the Section 508 Transition Roadmap.  The GSA 508 Team and Inter-Agency 508 Transition Workgroup is covering the Guidance on updating agency policies and life cycle processes, procedural "how to" checklists and decision trees, procurement guidelines and Buy Accessible Wizard Refresh Requirements, Technical Guidelines for design, development, testing, and monitoring.  The Access Board is covering guidance on how to interpret the standards.  The foundation is broken into Far Updates by the Far Committee, Technology Accessibility covered by the Playbook/Accessibility Community of Practice, and the New Standards by the Access Board.