Skip to secondary navigation Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.

Https

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.


Introduction

Purpose

The purpose of the Assessment is twofold:

  1. To improve transparency, accountability, and trust regarding Section 508 compliance, fulfilling specific reporting requirements under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023.
  2. To address the critical need for accessible information and communications technology (ICT) in the Federal Government, particularly recognizing its impact on persons with disabilities (PWD).

Addressing the Government-wide Need for Accessible ICT

In the United States, one in four adults live with disabilities. That translates to approximately 61 million Americans who have disabilities regarding mobility, cognition, hearing, and vision that impact major activities in their lives. As the federal government modernizes important public services, equitable digital access can and does play a critical role in the livelihoods and well-being of PWD. The COVID-19 pandemic, which saw the federal government unlocking the “virtual front door” to many of its services, further escalated the importance of equitable digital access for PWD. Although government web content is generally more accessible than web content from other sectors, 48% of popular federal government websites do not fully conform to Section 508 standards. Additionally, according to self-reported data from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) 2022 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), PWD represent 17% of the federal workforce. A recent study by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also found that, while federal agencies are improving ICT accessibility for federal employees, employees with disabilities remain underrepresented within federal leadership and are more likely than persons without disabilities to leave federal employment. Thus, digital access to federal government services and federal employment continues to present challenges for PWD.

To better understand and address the need for accessible ICT within the federal government, the Assessment aims to establish a new baseline for determining Section 508 compliance, with a broader scope than the Program Maturity Report (PMR) and greater depth and frequency than the Section 508 Report to the President and Congress: Accessibility of Federal Electronic and Information Technology. The ever-changing landscape of ICT demands a broader, deeper, and more frequent approach to assessing Section 508 compliance and helping agencies meet the statutory requirements established by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and the regulatory requirements of the ICT Standards and Guidelines.

Meeting the Reporting Requirements of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023

On December 29, 2022, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 became law. It mandated new requirements for OMB, GSA, and the Access Board to collect and report on federal agency data on ICT accessibility.

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 Section 752

To meet the requirements of (a)(2)(B), “agency” has been defined to mean federal department, component-level, and independent agencies subject to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Throughout this document, “reporting entity” is used to denote respondents to this Assessment.

OMB, in close coordination with GSA, the Access Board, OSTP, and the DOJ developed the 105 Assessment criteria used to evaluate reporting entity Section 508 compliance. In tandem, GSA gathered feedback from the broader federal ICT accessibility community to refine Assessment instructions and criteria. GSA also developed additional context for understanding the criteria, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and defining terms to help reporting entities collect data for the Assessment.

OMB broadly distributed instructions and the 105 Assessment criteria to heads of agencies, agency CIOs, and Section 508 program managers (PM) on April 7, 2023, pursuant to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023. Additionally, GSA posted instructions and criteria on Section508.gov the same day. Responding entities coordinated with OMB to define how they would report: by organizational unit or “reporting entity,” individually, or as a component of a larger parent agency.3 Reporting entities then designated a point of contact for the Assessment. GSA referenced and maintained, at the direction of OMB, a list of reporting entities and information for each point of contact.

GSA then developed and released an online tool for each designated point of contact to submit Assessment responses. In the leadup to the August 11, 2023 deadline for data submissions, GSA held 19 open office sessions to answer questions about the Assessment.

As GSA uses reporting entity data to support evidence-based decision making, we will continue to evaluate and improve data quality. Following guidelines in the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology’s “A Framework for Data Quality,” and in coordination with internal data quality initiatives, GSA will identify key challenges and strategies to continually improve data quality and data collection in future years.

    Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 Section 752

  1.  
    1. Not later than 100 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (in this section referred to as the ‘‘Director’’), in coordination with the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board and the Administrator of General Services (in this section referred to as the ‘‘Administrator’’), shall disseminate amended or updated criteria and instructions to any Federal department or agency (in this section referred to as an ‘‘agency’’) covered by section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794d) for the evaluation required pursuant to paragraph (3)(B).
    2. Such criteria and instructions shall—
      1. include, at minimum, requirements that information technologies and digital services must–
        1. conform to the technical standards referenced in subsection (a)(2)(A) of such section 508, as determined by appropriate conformance testing; and?
        2. be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities as determined from consultation with individuals with disabilities, including those with visual, auditory, tactile, and cognitive disabilities, or members of any disability organization; and
      2. provide guidance to agencies regarding the types and format of data and information to be submitted to the Director and the Administrator pursuant to paragraph (3), including how to submit such data and information, the metrics by which compliance will be assessed in the reports required in subsection (b), and any other directions necessary for agencies to demonstrate compliance with accessibility standards for electronic and information technology procured and in use within an agency, as required by such section 508.
    3. Not later than 225 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the head of each agency shall—
      1. evaluate the extent to which the electronic and information technology of the agency are accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities described in subsection (a)(1) of such section 508 compared to the access to and use of the technology and services by individuals described in such section who are not individuals with disabilities;
      2. evaluate the electronic and information technology of the agency in accordance with the criteria and instructions provided in paragraph (1); and
      3. submit a report containing the evaluations jointly to the Director and the Administrator.
  2.  
    1. Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the Administrator, in consultation with the Director, shall prepare and submit to the Committees on Appropriations and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate and the Committees on Appropriations and Oversight and Reform of the House of Representatives a report that shall include—
      1. a comprehensive assessment (including information identifying the metrics and data used) of compliance by each agency, and by the Federal Government generally, with the criteria and instructions disseminated under subsection (a)(1);

        (b)(1)(A)

        To meet the requirements of (b)(1)(A), the Assessment evaluates and summarizes governmentwide and reporting entity Section 508 compliance in the Findings, according to the 105 Assessment criteria. Furthermore, Appendix D provides a one page summary of compliance data for each reporting entity.
      2. a detailed description of the actions, activities, and other efforts made by the Administrator over the year preceding submission to support such compliance at agencies and any planned efforts in the coming year to improve compliance at agencies; and

        (b)(1)(B)

        To meet the requirements of (b)(1)(B), in the Recent GSA Efforts to Support Section 508 Compliance section, the Assessment describes efforts of the GSA Administrator to help reporting entities collect and submit their assessment data, as well as related efforts to improve Section 508 compliance.
      3. a list of recommendations that agencies or Congress may take to help support that compliance.

        (b)(1)(C)

        To meet the requirements in (b)(1)(C), in the Recommendations section, the Assessment proposes how Congress and reporting entities may improve Section 508 programs and Section 508 compliance governmentwide.
    2. The Administrator shall ensure that the reports required under this subsection are made available on a public website and are maintained as an open Government data asset (as that term is defined in section 3502 of title 44, United States Code).

      (b)(2)

      To meet the requirements of (b)(2), data is publicly available in the Assessment Data & Downloads section, including respondent data as an “open Government data asset”.

Structure

This Assessment report is organized into four main sections:

  • Background summarizes relevant federal law and policy related to the advancement of ICT accessibility and Section 508 compliance.

  • Findings highlight governmentwide and reporting entity specific trends found in the Section 508 compliance data using the previously described methods.

  • Recommendations propose ways to improve Section 508 compliance that are based on statistical analysis of reporting entity data and contextual knowledge.

  • Appendices provide a detailed explanation of terms and acronyms, federal initiatives regarding ICT accessibility, analytical methods and comprehensive responses by reporting entities.


  1. 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 and function outside of these traditional definitions.

Reviewed/Updated: December 2023

Section508.gov

An official website of the General Services Administration

Looking for U.S. government information and services?
Visit USA.gov