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A Digital Accessibility Catalyst for Your Next Policy Refresh: Introducing The IT Accessibility Policy Framework

All too often, digital accessibility is not top of mind for the agency policymakers and IT executives who guide federal IT modernization efforts. Consequently, many internal agency policies require updates to align with Section 508 statutory and regulatory requirements. To ease your agency’s effort to update its policies, the General Service Administration’s (GSA’s) Government-wide IT Accessibility Program is excited to present the IT Accessibility Policy Framework.

What is the Policy Framework?

To ease your agency’s effort to update its policies, the General Service Administration’s (GSA’s) Government-wide IT Accessibility Program is excited to present the IT Accessibility Policy Framework (the policy framework) to help agencies assess to what extent your agency’s policies should include accessibility information, and whether or not they include the appropriate amount and type of accessibility information. It offers your agency guidance on how to holistically assess internal policies against standard criteria, and how to update your IT accessibility language accordingly.

The policy framework organizes policies into three categories:

  • Organizational Purpose/Governing Guidelines that specify the need for creation of additional policies, rules and/or directives (Strategic Level Document)
  • Office Rules, Policies, and Directives that define goals and high-level ways of working (Operational Level Document)
  • Operational Guidance/Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that provide specific instructions to execute tasks (Tactical Level Document)

Why should I use it?

You can promote digital equity for all by directly assisting federal employees with making IT accessible. Agency leaders and digital accessibility decision-makers must lead the charge in ensuring policies at all levels include accessibility information for all relevant business functions. Managers and change agents accountable to leadership directives must also promote digital accessibility and “manage up,” as they play a vital role in executing digital accessibility policy-making strategy. Whatever your role, the policy framework is a catalyst for streamlining policy changes that advance digital accessibility.

What are some of its key features?

  • Standard policy categories mapped to relevant business functions, and standard criteria against which to evaluate policies
  • Instructions on how to prioritize policies for more impactful recommendations and updates
  • Recommended updates and language that your agency can incorporate into their policies to improve accessibility conformance
  • The Policy Review Template, a spreadsheet template that can help facilitate internal agency policy review and analysis

How should I evaluate and update policies for IT accessibility?

First, collect your agency’s policies and directives, including only those that are relevant to IT. Conduct and consolidate your policy review using the Policy Review Template (excerpt shown below).

Table 1. Policy Review Template Excerpt
General Policy Type Agency-specific Policy Type General Policy Subtype Agency-specific Policy Subtype Reviewed? (Y/N)

Next, analyze relevant policies, assessing them for Importance to Accessibility and Sufficiency of Accessibility Information. You can visualize the policy analysis with the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Accessibility Policy Need/Engagement Matrix shown below.

Table 2. ICT Accessibility Policy Need/Engagement Matrix
Blank matrix origin Importance to ICT Accessibility Considerations
(Combination of Relevance and Level of Detail)
Not Very Important/Not Important Somewhat Important Important High Importance Very High Importance
Sufficiency of ICT Accessibility Information Essential ICT Accessibility Information Missing Moderate High Very High Critical Critical
Inadequate, Contains Some ICT Accessibility Language Low Moderate High Very High Critical
Somewhat Sufficient Low Moderate Moderate High Very High
Mostly Sufficient Very Low Low Low Moderate Moderate
Fully Sufficient Very Low Very Low Low Low Moderate

Last, circulate the results of your policy review with agency leadership, and engage with policy owners to update policies in a prioritized manner, leveraging the recommended policy language to get started.

How can I learn more?

For more information, please contact Michael Horton or Alex Wilson at the Government-wide IT Accessibility Program at

Reviewed/Updated: June 2023

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