On December 21, 2023, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released M-24-08 Strengthening Digital Accessibility and the Management of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. This guidance establishes the required leadership, goals, and renewed focus to improve digital accessibility across the federal government.
Accessibility is an essential part of federal government modernization, improving federal customer experience, building public trust in government, and creating an inclusive workplace culture. Despite tens of millions of Americans living with a disability, nearly half of the most popular federal government websites are not fully accessible. This lack of accessibility has led to unequal access to critical services for millions of Americans. OMB’s updated policy requires agencies to put accessibility at the center of the federal government digital experience, ensuring the government can truly deliver for all Americans.
The federal government will deliver a more universally accessible digital experience to the public by:
- Establishing Digital Accessibility Programs and Policies: Agencies must designate a program manager accountable for defining and overseeing digital accessibility processes, including how digital accessibility issues are reported, tracked and resolved. It’s 2023. Individuals with disabilities must have access to electronic information and data that is comparable to what’s provided to those without disabilities.
- Procuring Accessible Products and Services: Agencies are encouraged to make accessibility subject matter experts part of the acquisition process to ensure any new Information and Communications Technology (ICT) an agency plans to buy will be fully accessible.
- Designing and Developing Accessible Digital Experiences: Agencies are expected to include people with disabilities as part of digital product design and testing user groups. By considering accessibility at the start, there’s a high likelihood the digital experience will be accessible.
- Creating, Communicating, and Delivering Accessible Content: Prior to publishing electronic content, agencies should test the content using assistive technologies to ensure it meets accessibility requirements. This will help ensure government information and services are available digitally and accessible.
- Monitoring and Remediating for Accessibility: Agencies should regularly scan web content using both automated and manual testing tools to fully assess whether accessibility requirements are met and immediately prioritize remediation if not. Digital accessibility is not a “one and done” initiative.
- Cultivating a Positive Culture of Digital Accessibility: Agencies are encouraged to offer Section 508 and digital accessibility training to employees on a regular basis. Education and awareness are an important component in establishing an inclusive workplace culture.
As an immediate action, agencies are required to identify a Section 508 Program Manager who will serve as a primary point of contact on Section 508 and the accessibility of ICT. Additional resources and instructions for immediate actions will be included on Section508.gov.