Section 508 Accessibility through the Acquisition Lifecycle
- 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. An overview of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Revised Section 508 Technical Standards of 2017 is provided. ICT is defined, and examples are provided for the types of technology covered. Key roles that government and industry play within the acquisition lifecycle in the Federal government will be reviewed to set the context for the challenges involved when procuring accessible ICT solutions. When acquiring Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Federal agencies follow an acquisition lifecycle that includes various steps. While agencies vary in how they conduct their acquisition planning depending on what ICT is being procured and the acquisition method being used, there are key acquisition lifecycle stages and processes that most agencies follow. This presentation walks the audience through the key acquisition lifecycle stages and incorporates ICT accessibility requirements throughout the acquisition process. There are two overarching categories of acquisition. The first category addresses new contracting, which includes developing requirements documents, statements of work, or performance work statements. The second category covers acquiring Commercial-Off-The-Shelf ICT products and services using existing contract vehicles. For new contracting, the Director of the Government-wide IT Accessibility Program from GSA shares information about available tools to promote ICT accessibility. GSA's Accessibility Requirements Tool (ART), which helps the government identify applicable conformance standards and create language for inclusion in its solicitations, is presented. The functionality provided by GSA's Solicitation Review Tool (SRT), which uses machine learning to identify the adequacy of accessibility requirements in Federal IT solicitations, is reviewed. Plans for integrating functionality across the tools are presented. The presentation will also address GSA's efforts to create a machine-readable Accessibility Conformance Report to facilitate industry providing information about the accessibility of its products and improving the purchaser's ability to obtain, evaluate, and compare the information contained in ACRs. For the acquisition of COTS ICT products and services, the Chairperson of the Federal CIO Council Accessibility Community of Practice Government-wide Industry Outreach Program from NASA presents best practices for COTS technology acquisition. The US Federal Government procures more COTS technology than it builds in-house. Therefore, it relies on industry to understand and incorporate the Section 508 standards in the products it builds so that accessible technology solutions can meet the government's requirements. Government efforts to inform Federal Agencies and industry on accessibility technology acquisition, including NASA's development of an industry outreach guide to demystifying Section 508, are presented. The presentation will conclude by summarizing best practices to ensure accessibility is considered throughout the acquisition lifecycle.
- Higher Education
- Information & Communications Technology
- Research & Development
- Audience Level
- Session Summary (Abstract)
- Presenters from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the General Services Administration (GSA) - two agencies that manage large acquisition vehicles for use across the federal government - share best practices for procuring accessible information and communication technology (ICT) that conforms to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
- Session Type
- General Track
- Digital Accessibility
- Information & Communications Technology (ICT)
- Law, Compliance, and Policy
- Betsy Sirk
National Aeronautics and Space Administration