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Quick Guide to IT Accessibility for Program Managers

Learn how to build an effective information technology (IT) accessibility program, and ensure that the technology your agency buys, builds, and uses, is accessible for all.

Take It Step By Step

Follow the steps below to navigate the Technology Accessibility Playbook (the Playbook). You’ll learn what’s required of a federal IT Accessibility Program Manager, and gain insights that will improve IT accessibility at your agency.

Step 1 - Understand IT Accessibility Requirements

Step 2 - Understand Reporting Requirements

Step 3 - Review Current Program

Step 4 - Build an Effective Team

Step 5 - Buy Accessible

Step 6 - Build Accessible

Step 7 - Test and Remediate

Step 8 - Train Employees
 

Step 1 - Understand IT Accessibility Requirements

Federal agencies have a responsibility to ensure equitable access to information and communication technology (ICT) for people with disabilities. Several laws and policies cover accessibility-related activities, but the two with which you should be most familiar are the  Revised 508 Standards and the Section 508 law.

  • IT products and services, whether they are free, purchased, or developed in-house, must conform to the Revised 508 Standards.
  • Agencies must comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C § 794 (d)) (as amended), as well as other related laws and policies, including:
  • Learn more about IT accessibility laws and policies.

    Key Playbook Plays

  • Appoint a program manager
  • Establish agency policy
  • Step 2 - Understand Reporting Requirements

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) collects data twice per year on the maturity and effectiveness of agency Section 508/IT accessibility programs. Reporting is required for CFO Act agencies, and recommended for all federal agencies.

  • Monitor and report progress
  • View governmentwide dashboards to see accessibility-related performance and budget data.

  • IT Dashboard
  • Key Playbook Play

  • Assess program maturity
  • Step 3 - Review Current Program

    Review current processes and procedures related to managing IT accessibility. Once you’ve identified gaps, develop a roadmap to fill those gaps.

  • Organizational roles and responsibilities
  • Sample agency policies
  • Key Playbook Play

  • Develop a roadmap
  • Step 4 - Build an Effective Team

    IT accessibility is a team effort, requiring support from throughout your organization. Engage people in your IT/CIO office, as well as procurement professionals, and content creators from across the agency, to ensure they understand their responsibilities under the law. You can also find allies at other agencies by joining the Federal Accessibility/508 Community of Practice.

  • IT Accessibility Program Manager roles and responsibilities
    • Identify and define additional roles and responsibilities (including Certified Trusted Testers)
  • Join the IT Accessibility Community of Practice
  • Share the Executive Guide to IT Accessibility with your management team
  • Key Playbook Plays

  • Cultivate a team
  • Engage with the community
  • Step 5 - Buy Accessible

    Collaborate with agency procurement professionals in your contracting office, to ensure that every IT purchase request at your agency includes accessibility requirements, and that an accessibility requirements review is part of every solicitation issued by your agency.

  • Buy accessible products and services
  • Accessibility Requirements Tool (ART)
    • Use ART to determine if accessibility requirements apply when you purchase IT products and services
  • Key Playbook Plays

  • Document your requirements
  • Buy accessible
  • Step 6 - Build Accessible

    Help agency stakeholders learn to address accessibility throughout the entire software development lifecycle. Properly document accessibility needs in systems requirements, follow universal design best practices, and develop digital tools and systems that are accessible to all.

  • Create accessible digital content & products
  • Universal Design
  • Accessibility for Teams
  • Key Playbook Plays

  • Document your requirements
  • Build accessible
  • Step 7 - Test and Remediate

    IT products and services must conform to the Revised 508 Standards. Websites and digital tools must also conform to the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA.

  • Use testing to validate for conformance to standards
  • Interagency Trusted Tester Program (ITTP) compliance test process
  • Develop and promote clear processes to track and resolve issues related to inaccessible technology.

  • Resolve internal issues
  • Address complaints from external users
  • Key Playbook Plays

  • Test for accessibility
  • Track and resolve issues
  • Step 8 - Train Employees

    Ensure staff understand their responsibilities under Section 508, particularly for official communication. Target key audience groups to ensure they have the required knowledge.

  • Content creators
  • Procurement professionals
  • Developers
  • QA/Testers
  • Develop customized training to address the specific skill gaps at your agency. Communicate regularly with agency components to share guidance, tools, and training opportunities.

  • Accessibility training
  • Key Playbook Play

  • Train employees
  • Conclusion

    This guidance is intended to help agencies navigate the Technology Accessibility Playbook and operate an effective IT accessibility program. Adoption of these strategies will help your agency expand access to government digital services, spur greater use of inclusive technology to increase diversity of the federal workforce, and improve accessibility for all.

    This guide is a companion to the Executive Guide to IT Accessibility, and aligns with the U.S. Web Design System, the Digital Services Playbook, and the TechFAR Handbook.

    Contact GSA’s Government-wide IT Accessibility Team for additional training and assistance.

    Reviewed/Updated: January 2019