Technology Accessibility Playbook

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Introduction

Intended audience

US Federal Government CIO and CAO offices, and Agency Section 508 Program Managers.

Our Challenge

The American people expect to interact with government through technology such as websites, mobile applications, kiosks and other electronic channels. In order to ensure equal access to government policies and programs, government technology must be accessible to people with disabilities and conform to the Section 508 standards. Today, too many of our digital services and technology solutions are not accessible to disabled members of the public or the disabled employees who support them.

Purpose

The Technology Accessibility Playbook provides a framework for the integration of strategic, business and technology management to ensure US Federal Government technology is accessible for people with disabilities. The Playbook contains twelve key “plays” drawn from successful practices in the government and private sector. The plays are listed in the order they should be considered; however all the plays are interdependent. Maturing a Section 508 Program requires an iterative approach to implementing the plays across an agency.

Numerous benefits will accrue from implementing this framework:

  • Education and awareness of what is needed to build and manage effective agency Section 508 Programs,
  • Strategic planning for increased agency Section 508 compliance and effective management of information technology,
  • Expanded access to Federal government digital services by disabled citizens,
  • Increased diversity of federal workforce enabled through inclusive technology.

This Playbook also provides guidance to ensure digital services informed by the Digital Services Playbook, and the U.S. Web Design System are accessible to disabled citizens, and technology acquisitions informed by The TechFAR Handbook include the necessary steps to ensure compliance with Section 508.

What is Section 508?

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794d), as amended in 1998, is a federal law that requires agencies to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to electronic information and data comparable to those who do not have disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency.

The Section 508 standards are the technical requirements and criteria used to measure conformance within this law. More information on Section 508 and the technical standards can be found at Section508.gov.

The Section 508 law is broad in scope, applying to all technology the federal government buys, builds, maintains, and uses.  Non-compliance can result in time consuming and costly lawsuits, delayed implementation of key IT investment priorities, and damage to public missions or image.

Technology Accessibility Plays

Play 1: Establish a Section 508 Program Manager to lead compliance efforts

Play 2: Assess your Section 508 program maturity

Play 3: Develop a Section 508 Accessibility Roadmap

Play 4: Establish a Section 508 Policy

Play 5: Develop a Section 508 Program Team

Play 6: Collaborate with the federal accessibility community

Play 7: Integrate accessibility needs into requirements and design processes

Play 8: Integrate accessibility needs into market research and acquisition processes

Play 9: Integrate accessibility needs into development processes

Play 10: Conduct Section 508 testing

Play 11: Track and resolve accessibility issues

Play 12: Educate the workforce

 

Reviewed/Updated: June 2016