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Appendix A: Terms and Definitions

The following terms are used in this 2023 Assessment report to Congress. Additional terms and definitions used within instructions and criteria are available at Section 508 Assessment Definition of Terms.

Table A1. List of terms and definitions.
Term Definition
ACR An Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) is a document that explains the extent to which a product conforms to accessibility standards (such as WCAG or Section 508 Technical Standards). A common way an ACR is completed is by using the VPAT® template created by the IT Industry Council (ITI), but other methods are used across government.
ANDI The Accessible Name & Description Inspector (ANDI) is a free accessibility testing tool created by the Social Security Administration.
Agency
  1. Within this document, “agency” includes any department, independent establishment, commission, administration, authority, board or bureau of the United States subject to Section 508 or “component” organizational unit below (usually one level) a Department or large agency enterprise level; generally used where this report offers recommendations and GSA efforts to increase Section 508 compliance.
  2. This report uses the term “reporting entity” rather than “agency” or “component” as traditionally defined because reporting entity Section 508 Programs may be organized and/or function outside of these traditional definitions; generally used for data-driven findings, observations and overall performance category recommendations.
ART The Accessibility Requirements Tool (ART) is a step-by-step guide created by GSA to help easily identify relevant accessibility requirements from the Revised 508 Standards, and incorporate them into procurement and contracting documentation.
Bracket Describes the groupings of reporting entities for business function maturity and operational conformance. Brackets include Very Low, Low, Moderate, High, and Very High. The pairing of a maturity bracket and conformance bracket, such as High-Moderate is referred to as an overall performance “category” throughout this assessment.
Business Function Maturity Or simply “maturity” as it is referenced throughout this document, approximates the level of development and advancement of a reporting entity’s Section 508 Program as well as other functions across the organization (the business) that are relevant to digital accessibility. It assesses the reporting entity’s responses to the criteria within 9 maturity dimensions (Q22-Q61, excepting Q27B). These questions cover different aspects of their Section 508 Program or equivalent as well as accessibility-related activities across the organization. Business function maturity, or “maturity” is evaluated by the maturity index or “m-index” and utilizes a scale ranging from 0 to 5, with 0 indicating a very low maturity level, and 5 indicating a very high maturity level.
c-index Assesses reporting entity conformance related to approximation of conformance to Section 508 standards. It measures how well reporting entities meet specific criteria within the Conformance dimension, using numerical values and weights for 16 criteria, including Q61, Q79, Q71, Q78, Q80 to Q85, and Q87 to Q92. The index uses a scale from 0 to 5, with 0 representing very low and 5 representing very high conformance levels.
Category Or Overall Performance Category. Used to describe groupings of reporting entities that fall within each pairing of the Maturity and Conformance bracket. As there are five maturity brackets (ranging from Very Low to Very High) and five conformance brackets (also ranging from Very Low to Very High), there are 25 total Overall Performance Categories. These categories are always titled by Maturity first and Conformance second, i.e., Very Low-Very Low, Moderate - Low, and so on.
CFO Act Agency The 1990 CFO Act gave OMB new authority and responsibility for directing federal financial management, modernizing the government’s financial management systems, and strengthening financial reporting. This act applies to 24 departments and agencies.
Component

Within this document, the use of “component,” “component agency,” and “component-level agency” broadly refers to the organizational unit below a Department or large agency enterprise level. Agencies across government have different designations and terminology for these organizational units, including component, bureau, administration, office, operating division, agency, and subagency. For example:

The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of the Navy (NAVY) would be considered agencies.

NAVAIR, a subunit of NAVY, was submitted as part of NAVY.

Conformance

Refers to a reporting entity’s adherence to the applicable parts of the ICT Final Standards and Guidelines (known as the Section 508 Standards), ensuring that its information technology products and services are Section 508 conformant, including websites, software, documents, and digital content. For example, for a web page to fully conform to Section 508, the entire web page must meet all applicable 38 WCAG Level A and AA Success Criteria.

Also, a shorthand way of referring to operational conformance. See Operational Conformance for full definition.

Criteria Refers to the [105 Assessment criteria ](https://www.section508.gov/manage/section-508-assessment/criteria-01/) that reporting entities responded to, split into 11 dimensions. Due to dependencies, some reporting entities may have responded to fewer than 105 criteria. Also denoted with “Q” before a number to identify specific criteria referenced. The terms criteria, metric, and question are used interchangeably when referring to the content reporting entities responded to.
Dimension Refers to the categorization of the 105 criteria into general questions, maturity questions and conformance questions. The Assessment criteria comprised 11 dimensions.
High Indicates that the maturity and/or conformance levels are considerably close to the desired standard. There is some improvement needed to optimize business functions and conformance to the Section 508 standards.
ICT

Information and Communication Technology, which is defined by the U.S. Access Board as, “Information technology and other equipment, systems, technologies, or processes, for which the principal function is the creation, manipulation, storage, display, receipt, or transmission of electronic data and information, as well as any associated content. Examples of ICT include, but are not limited to: computers and peripheral equipment; information kiosks and transaction machines; telecommunications equipment; customer premises equipment; multifunction office machines; software; applications; Web sites; videos; and, electronic documents”.

ICT accessibility and digital accessibility may be used interchangeably.

Information Technology
  1. with respect to an executive agency means any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment, used in the automatic acquisition, storage, analysis, evaluation, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, switching, interchange, transmission, or reception of data or information by the executive agency, if the equipment is used by the executive agency directly or is used by a contractor under a contract with the executive agency that requires the use—
    1. of that equipment; or
    2. of that equipment to a significant extent in the performance of a service or the furnishing of a product;
  2. includes computers, ancillary equipment (including imaging peripherals, input, output, and storage devices necessary for security and surveillance), peripheral equipment designed to be controlled by the central processing unit of a computer, software, firmware and similar procedures, services (including support services), and related resources; but
  3. does not include any equipment acquired by a federal contractor incidental to a federal contract.
Low Suggests that the maturity or conformance is below the desired standard but not as far from it as "Very Low." There's room for improvement in multiple areas and improvements most likely will be multifaceted.
Maturity A shorthand way of referring to business function maturity. See business function maturity for full definition.
Metric Refers to the 105 Assessment criteria that reporting entities responded to, split out into 11 dimensions. Due to dependencies, some reporting entities may have responded to fewer than 105 criteria. Also denoted with “Q” before a number to identify specific criteria referenced. The terms criteria, metric, and question are used interchangeably when referring to the content reporting entities responded to.
Moderate Signifies the maturity or conformance is average. It meets some standards but still has room for enhancement in certain areas across maturity or conformance.
m-index A measure of a reporting entity’s Section 508 Program maturity. It assesses reporting entity responses to criteria across 9 dimensions, including various aspects of their IT Accessibility Program. The index uses a scale from 0 to 5, with 0 representing very low and 5 representing very high maturity levels.
Operational Conformance Or simply referenced as “conformance” throughout this document. Operational conformance approximates how effectively reporting entities adhere to the relevant requirements for Section 508. Operational conformance is measured by the conformance index or “c-index,” which assesses a reporting entity conformance by quantifying their responses to 16 specific criteria within the Conformance dimension. These criteria include Q61, Q79, Q71, Q78, Q80 to Q85, and Q87 to Q92. Each of these criteria is assigned numerical values and weights to determine the overall conformance score.
Overall performance See also Category which is used interchangeably. Used to describe groupings of reporting entities that fall within each pairing of the Maturity and Conformance bracket. As there are five maturity brackets (ranging from Very Low to Very High) and five conformance brackets (also ranging from Very Low to Very High), there are 25 total Overall Performance Categories. These categories are always titled by Maturity first and Conformance second, i.e., Very Low-Very Low, Moderate - Low, and so on.
Parenthetical Title Term referring to the sub-specialty of a job series, as defined by OPM in position description development guidance.
Reporting Entity

Reporting entity denotes a respondent to the Assessment. This report uses the term "reporting entity" rather than "agency" or "component" as traditionally defined because reporting entity Section 508 Programs may be organized/function outside of these traditional definitions. Thus, reporting entities are loosely based on:

Reporting entity denotes a respondent to the Assessment. This report uses the term “reporting entity” rather than “agency” or “component” as traditionally defined because reporting entity Section 508 Programs may be organized/function outside of these traditional definitions. Thus, reporting entities are loosely based on:

“Agency,” which broadly applied to organizational components such as bureau, office, component, or at the department level (e.g., headquarters).

“Component,” which broadly applies to an organizational unit below (usually one level) a Department or large agency enterprise level. For example:

The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of the Navy (NAVY) would be considered agencies.

NAVAIR, a subunit of NAVY, was submitted as part of NAVY.

Question Refers to the 105 Assessment criteria reporting entities responded to, split out into 11 dimensions. Due to dependencies, some reporting entities may have responded to fewer than 105 criteria. Also denoted with “Q” before a number to identify specific criteria referenced. The terms criteria, metric, and question are used interchangeably when referring to the content reporting entities responded to.
SRT SRT stands for Solicitation Review Tool which is a GSA-developed tool built using open source technology, artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing, text mining, and machine learning algorithms to automatically identify whether new solicitations posted to “Contracting Opportunities” (beta.SAM.gov) are solicitations for ICT.
Very High Represents the highest level of maturity or conformance, signifying that it aligns closely with the desired standard in most areas across maturity and/or conformance.
Very Low Indicates that the maturity or conformance level is significantly below the desired standard, requiring substantial improvements in multiple areas across maturity and/or conformance.
VPAT VPAT® stands for Voluntary Accessibility Conformance Report which is a product of the Information Technology Industry Council, the VPAT® is a reporting format for assisting buyers and sellers in identifying information and communications technology (ICT) products and services with accessibility features. A completed VPAT® is referred to as an Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR).

Reviewed/Updated: December 2023

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