The Governmentwide Section 508 Program at GSA is pleased to commemorate Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) [http://www.globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org/] on May 21 this month. Global Accessibility Awareness Day is a community-driven effort dedicated to raise the profile and heighten awareness of digital accessibility to the broadest audience possible. In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to include a new section, Section 508, that required Federal agencies to make their information and communication technology accessible to people with disabilities, eliminating barriers in information technology, opening new opportunities for people with disabilities, and encouraging development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. Both Federal Employees and Citizens need accessible technology to do their jobs and communicate with their government. Blind users need Federal web pages to be usable by screen reading technology. Deaf users need informational or instructional videos to be close captioned so that they can understand content or training. Users who may have limited mobility need to be able to access services smoothly using keystrokes or alternative input mechanisms instead of a mouse. In terms of citizen services, accessibility is important to all age groups, but particularly affects Veterans and Seniors The President has designated GSA as the federal agency responsible for providing technical assistance in successfully managing Section 508 implementation throughout the acquisition lifecycle. GSA along with the Accessibility Subcommittee of the Chief Information Officers Council conducts interagency analysis to to improve collaboration across agencies, reduce redundancies, and develop solutions and recommendations for improving Section 508 management across the Federal government. To achieve these goals, GSA's Governmentwide Section 508 Program manages:
- Organization and leadership of the Governmentwide Section 508 Coordinator Community.
- The Section508.gov website, designated as a "one stop" resource for information and communication about Section 508.
- The development and management of tools, such as this BuyAccessible.gov website for use by the acquisition, requiring, IT, and Section 508 coordinator communities. For example, the BuyAccessible Wizard and Quick Links can help government buyers determine if their purchase is subject to Section 508 and creates ready-to-use documentation for solicitations.
- Section 508 Acquisition Curriculum learning modules for the acquisition workforce and requiring officials.
Ways to Get Involved through GSA:
GSA’s 18F recently hosted a11yhack, to explore methods for ensuring that Federal websites are accessible to everyone — individuals who are visually impaired, hearing impaired, or have mobility issues. It brought those working on and living in the accessibility arena together to raise and solve technology issues related to accessibility, from 3D printed augmentations to Federal procurement policy. Presenters included a wide range of subject matter experts conducting TED-style talks and demos, as well as hands-on lab activities. Coming up from the Governmentwide Section 508 program, we have a major event June 18th with two power packed sessions: To register check out www.section508.gov. Introduction to 508 for Everyone Want to learn more about Section 508? Need to know how to make your solicitations Section 508 compliant? Want to find out about the BuyAccessible tools that can help you with your Section 508 requirements? Join us for this informative session by one of the leaders in the Section 508 field. Overcoming Barriers to Accessibility: Alternative Solutions to Traditional Section 508 Issues Focus on identifying issues in the management of Section 508 compliance in large organizations with multiple stakeholders. We'll look at issues from procurement, contract language and management, development, program management, third party integrations, open data and more! This is a great opportunity to candidly discuss barriers to implementation, identify innovative solutions, and work to increase accessibility across government. For this year's Global Accessibility Awareness Day make it your resolution to visit Section508.gov, BuyAccessible.gov, and http://www.globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org/ to learn more about how to easily and efficiently implement IT accessibility to support federal workers and citizens!