How often do your contractors or internal staff create information deliverables, like reports, that you intend to put on the web? If you plan to make reports available through a link on website, then it becomes subject to Section 508 Provisions from 1194.22, 1194.31, and 1198.41(a) apply.
- 1194.22 Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications- Some of its provisions apply to reports on the web, for example (a) providing text equivalents for non-text elements like images, (c) information conveyed with color is also available without color, (g) row and column headers for data tables, and (n) making electronic forms accessible
- 1194.31 Functional Performance Criteria- Need to assure that the document can be used with assistive technology like a screen reader.
- 1194.41(a) Information, Documentation, and Support- Reports should be provided alternate formats upon request
Additionally, if the report contains interactive elements, then 1194.21 Software and Operating Systems also applies.
Here are some reference materials that may be helpful:
The Social Security Administration recently published some Section 508 resources for developers and vendors.
Resources for Software Developers:
- SSA Accessibility Best Practices Library (HTML Coding Examples)
- SSA Alternative Text Guide
- SSA Accessible Document Authoring Guide
- SSA Paper Prototype Accessibility Checklist
Resources for Vendors doing business with SSA:
- SSA Guide to Completing A VPAT (tells vendors how to properly complete a VPAT for quality assurance purposes)
- SSA Guide to Applying Section 508 Standards (gives vendors a high level understanding of how SSA interprets the existing 508 standards and how we will evaluate their products for conformance to applicable standards)
If you have any comments or questions about them, you can contact:
Robert Baker, PMP
SSA Section 508 Coordinator
Social Security Administration
Consider the message you are sending to your vendors in you solicitation. If you are not specific in your Section 508 requirements as required by the FAR, it appears that vendors ignore Section 508. As part of the GSA Section 508 program, our team reviews FedBizOpps solicitations. In the past three years of review, we have seen that solicitations with general Section 508 clauses never have any questions from vendors about Section 508. If vendors are never asking questions about this kind of vague, Section 508 language, it seems highly likely that they are not concerned with accessibility requirements. This provides some evidence that vendors only take Section 508 seriously if the government does.
No. Standard solicitation clauses are statements that indicate Section 508 applies or may apply without going into the detail of identifying EIT deliverables and what sections and provisions are applicable to each deliverable. Here is an attempt to use a standard clause in a solicitation: “All EIT supplies and services provided under any resultant contract must comply with the applicable accessibility standards.” Clauses like this simply don’t cut it. Standard clauses are not specific as required in part 39 of the FAR: you, the government, are required to identify specific Section 508 requirements for each EIT deliverable in your solicitation. This is your responsibility, not the vendors’. Providing specific Section 508 requirements will encourage vendors to bid more effectively.
The free tools at BuyAccessible.gov can help you to identify the specific Section 508 requirements for your deliverable.
Here are some upcoming events in March.
- CSUN. The 26th Annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference - March 14-19, 2011 in San Diego, CA
- IRMCO. GSA’s Interagency Resources Management Conference – an executive forum to collaborate on key strategies that shape and transform government management priorities of the future – March 15-16. 2011 in Washington, DC
- 2011 Web and New Media Conference. The annual Government Web Managers Conference – March 17 and 18, 2011 in Washington, DC