GSA Government-wide Section 508 Accessibility Program

GSA’s Section 508 Accessibility Event: Refreshing the Community

On the heels of recent successful Federal accessibility events like the Accessibility Hackathon and the EEOC Twitter Event, GSA continued the momentum by hosting a Microsoft and Accessibility event on April 7th. With over 200 attendees (virtual and in-person) the event was evidence that there is need to come together as a community around Section 508 issues and that there is much to be done.

Presenters for the event came from Microsoft, the Access Board, and the Department of Education with GSA’s Section 508 Program Manager, Helen Chamberlain, serving as the Master of Ceremonies. “You could see this event really jump-starting the Microsoft- Section 508 Community,” said Helen. “It’s a purposeful community, we’re co-sponsoring with Microsoft to collaborate and learn from one another. The time is right and the need is there.”

This community will create new ways to communicate with Microsoft, such as using Yammer to allow users to interact directly with Microsoft engineers on specific applications - giving the user a direct line to customer support.

Speaking of cutting out the middle man, attendees also heard directly from the Access Board on their new proposed rule (a.k.a. “Section 508 Refresh”) updating accessibility requirements for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Federal government covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. While the comment period for the proposed rule is open until May 28th, attendees got a taste of how the current and proposed rules differ, the potential impact on the Federal government, and a chance to ask questions.

The esprit de corps amongst attendees was palpable and was reflected in the positive event evaluations received and the energized conversations and networking that took place during and after the event. It is not just Section 508 that is getting a refresh; it is also the community that cares about EIT accessibility.