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Tabular Comparison of the Previous FAR Text Against the 2021 Update

On January 18, 2017, the U.S. Access Board issued a final rule (the “Revised 508 Standards”) that updated accessibility requirements covered by Section 508 for Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The final rule went into effect on January 18, 2018.

The Access Board rule updated and reorganized the Section 508 Standards (as well as the Section 255 Guidelines) in response to market trends and innovations in technology. The “refresh” also harmonized these requirements with other guidelines and standards both in the U.S. and abroad, including standards issued by the European Commission and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), a globally recognized voluntary consensus standard for digital content.

On August 11, 2021, the FAR Council (the Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy and Department of Defense (DOD), General Services Administration (GSA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)) published a final rule amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to incorporate these revisions and updates to ICT accessibility standards.

The full text and formal notice of the final rule is available at: Federal Acquisition Regulation: Section 508-Based Standards in Information and Communication Technology (federalregister.gov/d/2021-16363). The updates are effective as of September 10, 2021.

List of Amendments

The FAR is updated to match the language used in the Revised 508 Standards. For example, throughout “EIT” has been replaced with “ICT”.

The final rule amends 48 CFR parts 2, 7, 10, 11, 12, and 39 as set forth below. Changes are displayed as follows:

Part 2 - Definitions of Words and Terms

2.101 Definitions

The main change in this section is replacing “EIT” with “ICT”. The included examples were also changed to match those used in the Revised 508 Standards.

Part 7 - Acquisition Planning

7.103 Agency-head responsibilities

The main change in this section is replacing “EIT” with “ICT”.

7.105 Contents of written acquisition plans

Paragraph (b)(5)(iv) is a new requirement to identify the specific 508 standards that apply to ICT acquisitions. What was paragraph (b)(5)(iv) is now (b)(5)(v), however the content of this paragraph has not changed as shown below.

Part 10 - Market Research

10.001 Policy

The main change in this section is replacing “EIT” with “ICT”.

Part 11 - Ascribing Agency Needs

11.002 Policy

This change requires agencies to identify the needs of current and future users with disabilities and to proactively determine how ICT functionality will be available to these users.

Part 12 - Acquisition Of Commercial Items

12.202 Market research and description of agency need

The main change in this section is replacing “EIT” with “ICT”.

Part 39 - Acquisition Of Information Technology

Part 39.000 Scope of Part

Part 39.001 Applicability

The main change in this section is replacing “EIT” with “ICT”.

Part 39.101 Policy

The change in this section replaces “accommodations” with “accessibility”.

Subpart 39.2—Information and Communication Technology

39.201 Scope of subpart

The main change in this section is replacing “EIT” with “ICT”.

39.203 Applicability

This section reformats (b)(1)(2)(3) as (b) and (c). Paragraphs (e) and (f) for Legacy ICT are new and are derived from the Revised 508 Standards. The previous (c)(2) has moved to 39.205(3)(c).

39.204 Exceptions

The main changes in this section are some exceptions being grouped as exemptions. The micro-purchase exception has also been removed.

39.205 Exemptions

This section is new. Some General Exceptions from the Revised 508 Standards are listed in this section as exemptions.

For Further Information Contact:

Mr. Michael O. Jackson, a Procurement Analyst for GSA, at 202-208-4949, or by email at michaelo.jackson@gsa.gov for clarification of content. For information pertaining to status or publication schedules, contact the Regulatory Secretariat Division at 202-501-4755 or GSARegSec@gsa.gov. Please cite FAC 2021-07, FAR Case 2017-011.

Reviewed/Updated: September 2021