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

Achieving Section 508 compliance requires a comprehensive, programmatic approach to managing compliance activities throughout an agency. The scope of agency technology dependence is broad and continuously growing. Agencies need a well-qualified Section 508 Program Manager [1] who has the ability, visibility, and authority to lead agency compliance activities to ensure digital services and technology solutions are accessible to disabled users.

Key Questions

  • Does your Section 508 Program Manager have the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to lead an agency-wide accessibility compliance program? (see below for more details)
  • Have you assigned your Section 508 Program Manager to a position of authority sufficient to manage legal compliance risk on behalf of the agency?
  • Does your Section 508 Program Manager have the support of the Chief Information Officer and the Chief Acquisition Officer, and visibility within the agency, to serve as the principal authority on Section 508 compliance matters?

Checklist

  • At a minimum, an effective Agency Section 508 Program Manager:
    • Has the program management expertise to lead a complex agency-wide initiative,
    • Understands how Section 508 and related accessibility laws, regulations, and standards apply to the procurement, development, maintenance and use of information and communication technology,
    • Leads compliance management activities for all agency digital services and technology covered under the Section 508 law,
    • Assesses the maturity of the existing Section 508 program, develops goals and an action plan, and obtains support to improve the program’s maturity,
    • Leads efforts to establish Section 508 compliance policies and processes,
    • Leads efforts to address compliance requirements in design, acquisition, development, and maintenance life cycles and processes,
    • Leads efforts to address compliance requirements and into the agency’s enterprise architecture,
    • Ensures Section 508 conformance claims are validated using expert review and testing,
    • Leads program governance and oversight,
    • Measures and reports on the effectiveness of compliance program activities, and
    • Coordinates training and outreach to inform and build support with program stakeholders.
  • Section 508 Program Managers cannot implement accessibility strategies alone. They need partners across the agency to assist them. An effective Agency Section 508 Program Manager is a strategic partner who collaborates with:
    • Technology providers and development teams,
    • Operations and service delivery components,
    • Acquisition teams,
    • Civil rights and reasonable accommodation officials,
    • Human resource staff,
    • Communications and training groups,
    • Legal staff, and
    • Other federal Section 508 Program Managers.

    o   While inclusive access to federal digital services and technology is a Federal law and a government-wide priority, key decision makers may not understand the business case for supporting universal access.  To be effective, an Agency Section 508 Program Manager also needs to be a champion who:

    • Understands the needs of disabled individuals,
    • Can effectively communicate the needs of disabled individuals,
    • Actively promotes the benefits of accessible technology,
    • Advocates and negotiates for improving accessibility, and
    • Encourages professional development and recognition of accessibility professionals.
  • Section 508 compliance activities will likely affect a broad range of existing processes and work habits. To be effective at introducing activities to ensure technology is accessible, an Agency Section 508 Program Manager must help individuals transition to new ways of delivering technology. Therefore, a Section 508 Program Manager must be a change agent who:
    • Understands how to manage change for an agency-wide initiative, and
    • Supports agency components through the change process in order to achieve widespread adoption and effective compliance implementation.

Resources


[1]This role has previously been referred to as a 508 coordinator, although the program manager title more accurately reflects the role’s scope and the level of responsibility.