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Industry Outreach: Demystifying Section 508 Accessibility

Description
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that the US Federal Government buys, builds, and implements Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that is accessible to all its employees and members of the public. Section 508 contains technical standards which define what accessible technology means. When followed, these technical standards facilitate the interoperability of the technology and the assistive or adaptive technology an individual may use. The US Federal Government buys more Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) technology than it builds in-house. Therefore, the US Federal Government relies on industry to understand and incorporate the Section 508 standards in their products so that accessible technology solutions are available to meet the government’s requirements. An overview of Section 508 and the Revised Section 508 Technical Standards of 2017 will be provided. The audience requires no prior knowledge of Section 508 to fully engage with the presentation material. Key roles that the government and industry play within the acquisition lifecycle in the Federal government will be reviewed to set the context for the challenges involved when buying COTS ICT solutions. This session focuses on guiding the industry to understand why accessibility matters and how to address it so that its ICT solutions may be considered for purchase by the US Federal Government. The Federal CIO Council established an Accessibility Community of Practice (ACoP) to promote the adoption of Section 508. The ACoP consists of US Government professionals who work to enhance the accessibility of Federal ICT. The ACoP comprises three subcommittees: Best Practices, Education, and Industry/Vendor outreach. It engages the Federal workforce, advocacy groups, academia, and industry around innovative solutions for accessible technology. In this presentation, the leaders of the industry outreach subcommittee from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) share stories of industry outreach efforts and outcomes. The stories are based on engagements with companies of varying sizes that offer various ICT solutions, from specialized scientific equipment to general office applications. In response to Industry’s challenges and expressed confusion over addressing Section 508 and specifically with developing an Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR), NASA has developed an Industry Outreach guide to demystify Section 508 and simplify the process of completing an ACR. The guide and other available resources are provided in the presentation. Creating accessible technology is not only a recommendation but a necessity to stay competitive. Our world is becoming more accessible, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act drives ICT in this direction.  
Audience
  • Information & Communications Technology
  • Government
  • Research & Development
  • Manufacturing
  • Administration & Business Support
Audience Level
Beginning  
Session Summary (Abstract)
To address Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, the US Federal Government relies on Industry to provide accessible ICT. This win-win situation is achieved when the Industry develops ICT with accessibility in mind. The goal is to stimulate an accessible ecosystem of ICT that benefits both Industry and Government.  
Session Type
General Track  
Topics
  • Digital Accessibility
  • Information & Communications Technology (ICT)
  • Law, Compliance, and Policy

Presenters

  • Betsy Sirk
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Antonio Haileselassie
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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