Section 508 Background
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. 794d) requires that when Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology (E&IT), Federal employees with disabilities have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access and use by Federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. Section 508 also requires that individuals with disabilities, who are members of the public seeking information or services from a Federal agency, have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to the public who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency.
DoD CIO Section 508 Responsibilities
The Section 508 Office of the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer (DoD CIO) is responsible for: (a) developing policies, procedures, and requirements related to achieving implementation of, compliance with, and institutionalization of Section 508; (b) serving as the DoD Section 508 coordinator and DoD point of contact for Section 508 implementation; and (c) representing the Department of Defense on Federal-wide boards and committees to develop Section 508 standards.
The Section 508 law requires that individuals with disabilities have access and use of information and data that is comparable to individuals without disabilities. The United States Access Board Standard 1194.22 further elaborates on requirements for web-based intranet and internet information and applications. In an effort to ensure that DoD public websites are accessible, the Office of the DoD CIO, randomly tests DoD websites for accessibility. The testing results are provided to the Component Information Technology (IT) lead to bring websites 508 compliant.
E&IT Solicitation Assessments
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Subpart 39.2 requires that acquisition of E&IT supplies and services must meet the applicable accessibility standards at 36 CFR Part 1194 (Section 508 Standards). The General Services Administration (GSA), in an effort to enforce accessibility of federally procured products and services, randomly select federal contracts for review. Guidance is given to DoD Components to review existing procurement and information technology policies and procedures to confirm that the Section 508 standards are appropriately considered and clearly stated when preparing requirements and solicitation documents.
For DoD, Section 508 is not just the law; it's the right thing to do!