GSA Government-wide Section 508 Accessibility Program

Revised 508 Standards Roadmap (beta)

The Revised 508 Standards of the Rehabilitation Act ensure information and communication technology (ICT) is accessible and usable by individuals with disabilities. Federal agencies must comply with the Revised 508 Standards beginning January 18, 2018. This Roadmap, developed by the U.S. Federal Government Revised 508 Standards Transition Workgroup and GSA, shows how to integrate the standards into an existing 508 Program.

We are looking for agency feedback on this Roadmap, so please email your comments and suggestions to GSA at section.508@gsa.gov. Also, please note that some content is still in development, and will be linked in below as it's finalized.

Why This Is Important

  • Gives you an opportunity to engage with agency decision makers and vendors on the importance of accessible technology.
  • Provides for interoperability with the latest technology, improving support to all users, including those with disabilities.
  • Provides a modern technology framework to drive innovation and increase sustainability.
  • Aligns with Universal Design principles.

Major Changes

  • Provides guidance based on features and functionality.
  • Harmonizes accessibility requirements with international standards such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.
  • Clarifies how guidelines apply to public facing and non-public facing websites, web applications, multimedia, software, electronic documents and operating systems.
  • Clarifies how software and operating systems need to work with assistive technology.
  • Addresses access for people with cognitive, language, and learning disabilities.
  • Provides accessibility requirements for modern hardware, software, and authoring tools.
  • Clarifies guidance on allowed exceptions.

Quick Reference Guide

If your agency already has a mature 508 Program, you need to know how the revisions will impact you, so check out this guide for a high-level overview of key changes.

How to Incorporate the Standards

If your agency does not have a 508 Program, or you are working to improve your 508 Program, you will need to know how to incorporate the standards into the work you are already doing. Here is step-by-step technical assistance on how the standards fit into program maturity. Each step below is organized to show requirements, tools, best practices, testing guidelines, and relevant sections of the technology accessibility playbook.

Image depicting components of a mature 508 Program

Caption: Image of the components of a mature 508 Program

Build Awareness & Support

Get out and talk about what your agency is doing to implement the standards. Collaborate internally, and help employees understand their rights and responsibilities.

  • Familiarize your agency with the Revised 508 Standards. (Updated)
  • Requirement E203.7 - Work with your HR Office to identify user needs of people with disabilities in your organization. (NEW)
  • Assess the maturity of your agency's 508 program, and take steps to improve accessibility of agency technology.
  • Collaborate with your CIO and other stakeholders to align Section 508 compliance with enterprise efforts to:
    • Adopt accessibility and universal design principles;
    • Innovate to transform how users interact with government;
    • Modernize agency technology; and
    • Develop and support a diverse workforce.
  • Use plain language when describing policies and procedures, so employees understand requirements and expectations.

Revised 508 Standards

Webinars

Section 508 Online Training

  • Overview (in development)
  • For Executives (in development)
  • For 508 Program Managers (in development)
  • For Contracting Officer Representatives and Contracting Officers (in development)
  • For Purchase Card Holders (Micro-Purchases) (in development)
  • For Project Teams (in development)

Technology Accessibility Playbook

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Practice Universal Design

Use the technical requirements in the standards to drive adoption of accessible, sustainable technology and universal design principles. Provide an environment that can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people, regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.

  • Requirement E203.2 - Understand how to address the needs of users with disabilities, including: (NEW)
    • Users with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive disabilities (including disabled veterans, employees, and constituents); and
    • Older adults who are developing impairments that change the way they use technology.
  • Incorporate user needs as key drivers for technology solutions and modernization efforts.
  • Use the updated technical requirements to drive compatibility with the latest technology and increase sustainability.
  • Leverage user needs to improve understanding of how to implement emerging interaction technologies (e.g., voice, gesture, touch, sight).
  • Engage employees with disabilities to understand how to develop and support a diverse workforce and validate solutions.

Best Practices

Technology Accessibility Playbook

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Update Agency Policies

Update your agency policies to address new or updated requirements in the standards. If your agency does not have a 508 policy, you should establish one.

  • Requirements E202 - Revised criteria includes addressing new requirements when claiming exceptions. (Updated)
    • Requirements E202.6.3, E202.7.2 - Address requirements for providing an alternative means, when needed, to support inclusion when claiming Undue Burden, Fundamental Alteration, and Best Meets exceptions.
  • Requirement E203.2 - Identify user needs of people with disabilities. (NEW)
  • Requirement E205 - Revised technical standards for web and non-web based electronic content (updated), including public facing electronic content and agency official communications
    • Requirement E205.3 & E205.4 - Ensure categories of electronic content that is not public-facing are accessible. (NEW)
  • Requirement E206 & Chapter 4 - Hardware. (Updated)
  • Requirement E207 & Chapter 5 - Ensure authoring tools support the creation of accessible content. (NEW)
  • Requirement E208 & Chapter 6 - Support services & documentation. (Updated)
  • Chapter 3 Functional Performance Criteria (if Chapters 4 and 5 do not address one or more ICT functions). (Updated)

Tools

  • Revised 508 Standards Applicability Checklist - Helps you determine what standards and exceptions apply to ICT items. (NEW)
    • Accessibility Requirements Tool (in development) - Automates the Revised 508 Standards Applicability Checklist; generates an accessibility reporting requirements template and customizable accessibility solicitation language. (NEW)

Best Practices

Technology Accessibility Playbook

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Procure & Develop Accessible Technology

Ensure that the technology you buy and build is designed to be accessible from the start.

  • Communicate to key internal stakeholders the benefits of accessible technology for all users.
  • When conducting acquisition planning, manage accessibility risk by requesting and evaluating accessibility information from vendors prior to selection:
    • Determine the applicability of the standards to each item.
    • Identify how the vendor should provide information you need to perform a 508 technical evaluation;
    • Incorporate Section 508 criteria into the evaluation factors; and
    • Add accessibility provisions, clauses, and acceptance criteria, to ensure accessibility support is provided throughout the life of the contract, and to manage your agency's accessibility risk after award.
  • Validate that technology products and services provide full support for accessibility prior to award selection and, where feasible, prior to deployment for custom developed deliverables.
    • Follow the updated testing guidelines, endorsed by the Federal CIO Council, to validate support for the standards for web, software, and electronic document products and services. (Updated)
  • Ensure existing staff and contractors who are “certified” under the Federal CIO Council Accessibility Community of Practice's Trusted Tester Program update their certifications once program updates are complete.
  • Requirement E202.2 - Review existing contracts to determine whether amendments are needed to clarify how the standards apply. (NEW)
  • Requirement E202.7 - When making award selection decisions, choose products and services that best meet all user needs, including users with disabilities. (Updated)
  • Requirement E203 - When reviewing acquisition and development solutions, prioritize how to address all user needs, including users with disabilities. (E203.2 NEW)
  • When procuring or developing ICT items, determine the applicability of the standards to each item. (NEW)
    • Use the Revised 508 Standards Applicability Checklist until the GSA Accessibility Requirements Tool (ART) (in development) is available, to help you quickly generate tailored solicitation language; avoid using canned, generic clauses. (NEW)

Tools

  • Revised 508 Standards Applicability Checklist - Helps you determine what standards and exceptions apply to ICT items. (NEW)
    • Accessibility Requirements Tool (in development) - Automates the Revised 508 Standards Applicability Checklist; generates an accessibility reporting requirements template and customizable accessibility solicitation language. (NEW)
  • Voluntary Product Accessibility Template 2.0 (MS Word) - Used by vendors to create Accessibility Conformance Reports (ACRs) (Updated)

Best Practices

Testing Guidelines

Technology Accessibility Playbook

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Create Accessible Documents

Help employees create accessible documents and content.

  • Communicate to key internal stakeholders the benefits of accessible documents for all users.
  • Use the defined electronic content categories to identify the types of documents used by your agency; begin with those most frequently used.
  • Commit to using authoring tools and document converters that help users create accessible documents. Upgrade existing tools (e.g., Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat) to the latest version. Benefits:
    • Built-in features that make it easier to create accessible documents;
    • May support agency mandates to transition to the cloud;
    • May protect against security breaches; and
    • Addresses new requirements for authoring tools.
  • Promote the Federal CIO Council's free training resources to help you create and test Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat documents for accessibility. (Updated)
  • Requirement E205 - Ensure 508 conformance for all public-facing electronic content, as well as internal-facing official communications that fall under defined categories. (NEW)

Tools

Best Practices

Technology Accessibility Playbook

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Measure & Monitor Progress

Keep track of how your agency is meeting goals; measure your success.

  • As technology is modernized or updated, ensure conformance to the standards.
  • Use automated accessibility scanning tools to conduct preliminary testing for large websites and electronic document libraries.
    • Note that automated scanning tools can only validate conformance to a portion of the standards.
  • Update test scripts in current scanning tools to align with the WCAG 2.0 Guidelines. (Updated)
  • Record automated and manual accessibility test results in a central database. Track:
    • Which features and functionality were tested;
    • Whether original or revised standards were used to perform testing;
    • Feedback from users with disabilities; and
    • Accessibility improvement activities.
  • Monitoring and reporting requirements - Reports are due to OMB each February and August.

Technology Accessibility Playbook

Page Reviewed/Updated: October 2017