GSA’s Governmentwide Section 508 Program Team just returned from the 2015 Section 508 Interagency Accessibility Forum: Sharing Accessible Solutions with Everyone hosted by HHS on Oct 20, 2015. This forum was a chance for federal employees and contractors to share best practices, learn about new technologies, and network with other federal employees to broaden the dialog concerning Section 508 accessibility and inclusion.
GSA participated by leading four workshops:
- GSA Section 508 Program - by John Sullivan, Division Chief, Information Resources Management
- Integrating Accessibility into Contracts for Services - by Jim Kindrick, BuyAccessible Team
- Using the BuyAccessible Tools and Website - by Helen Chamberlain, Government-wide Section 508 Training and Outreach Director
- Developing an Effective 508 Program - Quentis Scott, Section 508 Coordinator/Program Manager
GSA Section 508 Program
John Sullivan gave an overview of what GSA is reinventing itself to provide- more efficient and collaborative Section 508 services to customers. Topics of discussion included Section 508 Program Maturity, procurement assessments, and metrics reporting.
Integrating Accessibility into Contracts for Services
Jim Kindrick lead a workshop on how Section 508 requirements apply to service contracts. Agencies that purchase services that provided electronic and information technology (EIT) deliverables need to include accessibility requirements for those deliverables. The key is how you specify the contract deliverables for service contracts.
Who is responsible for accessibility in service contracts? The requiring authority identifies deliverables. The agency EIT specialist identifies 508 technical requirements for those deliverables. The contracting officer includes 508 contract language for those technical requirements. The vendor providing the service provides accessibility information to the government and makes 508 conforming solutions. The end user requires equivalent access to be able to use the deliverables. It takes a village!
Service contracts often include multiple deliverables. They can be categorized in this way:
- Services that deliver EIT - Development, integration, e.g. develop a website
- Services that modify EIT - Maintenance, enhancements
- Services that support EIT use - Operations, helpdesk, documentation, training
- Services that advise on EIT - Architecture, consulting, research. e.g. need to include 508 considerations in the advice
- Services that deliver electronic information - Subscriptions, databases, telecommunication services, electronic training
Using the BuyAccessible Tools and Website
Helen Chamberlain led a workshop giving an overview on the BuyAccessible Tools and Section508.gov website. She discussed how both are integral parts of the information, communication, and technology (ICT) lifecycle process with regard to making sure that Section 508 technical requirements are included in your ICT procurements.
Developing an Effective 508 Program
Quentis Scott led a workshop and talked about the basic elements that comprise a 508 program and how to move towards that goal. She discussed how one of the biggest challenges for many agencies is moving from a 508 Office, where Section 508 issues are expected to be managed for the entire agency, to a Section 508 Program, where many different stakeholders have Section 508 responsibilities assigned to them and are held accountable for results.