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Section 508 Transition Activities Update

June 29, 2017 - Here are some updates on the Section 508 Transition Activities underway to centralize guidance, avoid duplication, and streamline the transition to the revised standards. The Access Board, the ACoP, GSA’s Government-wide Section 508 Team, and many of you who are working to help make this transition happen as smoothly as possible.

The Policy and LifeCycle Subgroup is preparing guidance to help agencies update their Section 508/Accessibility policy to reflect the new regulations. Topics include:

  • 508 exceptions;

  • Determining undue burden and requirements for alternative means;

  • “Safe harbor;”

  • Fundamental alteration;

  • User needs;

  • How to determine “best meets;”

  • Access to functionality as required by 501 and 504 and 508;

  • Accessibility of electronic content; and

  • Inclusion of accessibility in the ICT lifecycle. 

The Development and Authoring Subgroup plans to post Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the Section 508 Standards Refresh page by July 1, explaining the differences between existing and refreshed Section 508 standards. It will also direct authors and developers to watch for new guidance and best practices coming from the Federal Chief Information Officer’s Accessibility Community of Practice.

The How To Subgroup

  • Developed and finalized draft recommendations for revising the new VPAT© Beta that is proposed by ITI. Our goal is to ensure that agencies receive high quality responses and justifications as well as information on how the responses were derived.

  • Completed a Best Practices Guide on how to request information from vendors to get better responses.

  • Drafted a concise, plain language Accessibility Requirements Checklist to help guide CORS and Project Teams through determining whether the ICT they are buying, building, maintaining or using is covered by the new standards, whether the new exceptions apply, and if not what standards the ICT needs to conform to. Additional efforts have been started to provide best practice guidelines for identifying user needs, which is a new requirement in the standard.

GSA Government-wide Section 508 Activities

  • Online Training Re-development and deployment

  • A fifth Executive Guide is under development as well as four online training courses which are redeveloped to align to the new standard:

    • Section 508 basics

    • Micro Purchases

    • Technology Accessibility Playbook

    • Procurement course

  • FAR

    • The FAR Council has opened up a FAR Case to get the updated FAR changes implemented. The work is on schedule, with some extra time needed for some agency participation.
  • BuyAccessible Redevelopment

    • GSA is working on a new Accessibility Requirements Generator to develop output in multiple formats that can be used to define the government’s accessibility requirements. Note, care is being taken to ensure product consistency among this BuyAccessible replacement, the revamped VPAT® recommendations, and the Accessibility Requirements Checklist and other materials being generated to assist in the transition.

To review initial guidance on the new standards, visit the Section 508 Standards Refresh page. Contact the Government-wide Accessibility Team at with questions or to contribute input to a subgroup.

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