In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual's ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. 794d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others.
Agency responsibilities include:
- Incorporating the new requirements of Section 508 into policy and practice, especially related to procurement and acquisitions;
- Managing administrative complaints; and
- Responding to reporting requirements.
The OCIO is responsible for promoting and providing Information Technology (IT) Services DOE wide to persons from all walks of life regardless of their disability, and in providing Section 508 Compliance Assistance and Guidance where appropriate. All functional organizations within DOE have the responsibility and legal liability for Section 508 Compliance and must ensure that all products, including those a contractor develops or supplies in accordance with contract requirements comply with Section 508. Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) Contracts should include requirements for contractors to comply and may include contractor responsibility for testing, but acceptance of a product or service to be compliant is the legal responsibility of the DOE and more specifically the requesting organization. To assist in this process the OCIO is in the process of developing policy, standards, and guidance as it relates to 508 compliance within DOE’s IT operating environment.
The DOE OCIO designated Agency Overall Section 508 Coordinator provides a lead role in implementing Section 508 DOE Wide. All DOE organizations should appoint a Section 508 Coordinator Working Group member responsible for assisting the Overall Agency Section 508 Coordinator in caring out the implementation process and in being available to assist their immediate organization and or field activity by involving stakeholders as required to efficiently implement strategy for Section 508. It is recommended that Working Group Members be knowledgeable in IT and have knowledge of their organization IT environment. To locate the person designated as 508 representatives to your office (see member list available at DL-IM-Section 508).
Additional Section 508 Information:
- Frequently asked questions regarding the Acquisition of EIT Under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
- Guidance on the Section 508 Provisions and how to develop Web pages that meet the provisions established under Section 508 go to http://www.access-board.gov After getting on this site see “Teitac Report” then proceed by viewing information under its Reports, Standards, Guidelines, Section 508 Update, testing, etc,.
- "Buy Accessible," at http://www.buyaccessible.gov. This website provides guidance to be used in ensuring that vendor's products and services are compliant with Section 508. The site represents a partnership between government and industry by providing a service to federal employees involved in the acquisition of EIT. It assists government personnel in completing market research necessary to ensure that they are buying the most accessible IT products and services available in order to achieve compliance (for additional information on achieving compliance, contact your Section 508 Coordinator).