The Department of Education considers accessibility to information a priority for all employees and external customers, including individuals with disabilities. The Department has established these Requirements for Accessible Electronic and Information Technology (E&IT) Design in order to support its obligations, under Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 794 and 794d. This is to ensure the accessibility of its programs and activities to individuals with disabilities, specifically its obligation to acquire accessible electronic and information technology.

Therefore, when selecting computer hardware and software applications (and other E&IT) for use within the Department's office environment, the Department will evaluate the hardware and software to determine its accessibility by users with disabilities.

The purpose of this document is to convey the accessibility needs of the Department to the developers and suppliers of E&IT. It addresses the minimum accessibility requirements E&IT must meet in order to be used by all Department employees and customers. These requirements are offered to demonstrate the accessibility needs that must be considered when designing and developing E&IT for the Department of Education. They address proven techniques for the design of universally accessible E&IT that can be used by individuals with or without a disability.

These requirements incorporate the Access Board's final accessibility standards for electronic and information technology covered by section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.

While a product that meets these requirements ensures minimum accessibility for individuals with disabilities, the Department of Education encourages E&IT technology developers to be creative and maximize their design of E&IT to be universally accessible. More specific recommendations for how to design universally accessible software can be obtained from Links on our web site: U.S. Dept. of Education Assistive Technology Program, or you may contact the Assistive Technology Program by telephone at: (202)/260-5055.

The Chief Information Officer, after consulting with appropriate individual experts in the field of assistive technology, reserves the right to amend these requirements to ensure the accessibility of new and emerging technologies which may burgeon upon the fast-paced IT environment. Amendments to these requirements will in no way lessen the obligations for E&IT products to meet the minimum Section 508 requirements, but may place other access-related requirements on such E&IT as necessary to ensure full accessibility by the Department and its customers.