Celebrating the 18th Anniversary of the Section 508 Rehabilitation Act

August 8, 2016, marks the 18th anniversary of the amendment to the Section 508 Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which covers access to information technology in the federal sector. To recognize the importance of IT accessibility, we wanted to highlight some agency initiatives to improve accessibility across the federal landscape.

A red, white, and blue celebration cake with two lit candles, a one and an eight, for the number 18.

As amended, the Act requires:

…access to the federal government’s electronic and information technology. It applies to all federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use such technology. Federal agencies must ensure that this technology is accessible to employees and the public to the extent it does not pose an “undue burden.”

Because agency websites are one of the most common ways the public accesses government information, measurement is an ongoing process that requires focused, dedicated resources and human oversight. Several agencies have created their own accessibility implementation guides and tools to promote equal access of government websites.

Agency Resources

The Dept. of Health and Human Services shares their Section 508 plans and milestones on the public internet for everyone to see. This includes checklists, training, and a compliance and remediation section which displays their website accessibility “leaderboard.” Several other agencies share similar information, including Social Security Administration and Dept. of Homeland Security, to name a few.

February 2016 to July 2016 Scores*
Excellent- 90% and above
Needs Improvement- 75 to 89.99%
Poor- 74.99% and below

Agency
Name
Feb
2016
Mar
2016
Apr
2016
May
2016
Jun
2016
Jul
2016
ACF 94.59% 94.19% 94.66% 93.88% 93.47% 94.41%
ACL 99.13% 99.13% 99.18% 99.34% 99.25% 98.99%
AHRQ 94.32% 94.15% 94.24% 94.93% 95.64% 94.86%
CDC 97.44% 97.13% 95.30% 94.45% 94.21% 94.49%
CMS 86.55% 86.52% 84.66% 87.69% 89.09% 89.26%
FDA 95.55% 95.62% 95.14% 95.56% 95.61% 95.53%
HRSA 94.51% 94.12% 94.75% 94.07% 93.93% 94.10%
IHS 82.51% 82.47% 84.25% 81.32% 72.18% 75.64%
NIH 93.52% 94.15% 95.30% 95.45% 93.39% 90.66%
OS
(includes PRIORITY)
95.17% 95.14% 94.36% 94.71% 95.32% 92.41%
OS
PRIORITY
(break-out)
96.76% 96.50% 95.25% 95.81% 95.73% 94.02%
SAMHSA 91.86% 89.18% 89.63% 88.75% 81.21% 79.24%
* This is partial data for the last 6 months; please visit HHS’s site for the full year, August 2015 to July 2016.

It’s also worth noting that the CIO Council’s active Accessibility Community of Practice (CIOC ACOP) has developed a Technology Accessibility Playbook. In the words of Section508.gov:

Modeled after the Digital Services Playbook, the Technology Accessibility Playbook provides twelve plays that, if followed together, will help the government ensure its information and communications technology is fully accessible to disabled employees and members of the public. The plays outline a sustainable approach to supporting full inclusion through technology, and provide a framework for strategic planning and defining program maturity capabilities needed within each agency.

Another collaborative initiative we want to highlight is the Improving the Accessibility of Social Media Toolkit. This toolkit was developed by many agencies and just recently updated by the Dept. of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy, and the FCC.

Testing

DHS leads the government’s Interagency Trusted Tester Program (ITTP). The TT takes a harmonized, repeatable, scalable, code‐inspection‐based approach to determine software and website conformance to the Section 508 standards by training individuals to become trusted testers (

PDF icon
160KB PDF). Not only does the federal government then have a reliable set of testers who can address key Section 508 areas, but it also promotes a common understanding of the 508 standards and a common testing process developers can code to.

We are very excited about the strides made to allow all citizens easier access to government information throughout 2016, and we look forward to the new tools, training and innovations in accessibility coming in 2017. What is YOUR agency doing to makes strides with accessibility?To view PDF documents, you’ll need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader app, available for multiple operating systems and devices:

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