Federal agencies (and the organizations that do business with them) must comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act by making digital information accessible to people with limited vision and other disabilities. However, a recent report from the General Services Administration (GSA) suggested that the federal government is not meeting statutory requirements. Read on to review Section 508 requirements, understand the latest information available, and learn how your agency or organization can improve compliance.
About Section 508
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires federal agencies (and organizations that do business with federal agencies) to provide equal access to electronic and information technology to people with disabilities. Section 508 applies to all federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. The law primarily applies to public federal pages on the internet and does not include private industry web pages.
Governmentwide Section 508 Assessment
On December 29, 2022, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 became law. It mandated new requirements for government agencies to collect and report on federal agency data on information and communication technology (ICT) accessibility.
To meet these new requirements, the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and GSA developed assessment criteria to establish a new baseline for determining Section 508 compliance. More than 240 federal entities participated in the FY 2023 assessment between June 2022 and May 2023, with findings delivered in December 2023.
GSA’s FY 2023 Governmentwide Section 508 Assessment states, “The government as a whole is not meeting the minimum standard or legal obligation to provide equal access to all members of the public and federal employees with disabilities.”
- Of the most-viewed electronic documents, intranet and internet pages, and videos, less than 30% fully conformed to Section 508 standards.
- Although 78% of reporting entities (assessment survey responders) have testing methodologies and processes in place, implementation has had no great effect.
Additionally, OMB issued Memorandum M-24-08 “Strengthening Digital Accessibility and the Management of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act” to the heads of executive departments and agencies on December 21, 2023. The memorandum emphasizes the growing necessity of digital accessibility and the use of ICT to ensure functionality is accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.
M-24-08 “Immediate Agency Actions” include:Within 30 days:
- Designating an agency-wide Section 508 program manager
- Establishing (or reviewing and updating) digital accessibility statements on all agency websites
- Establishing (or reviewing and updating) a public feedback mechanism for receiving complaints or reports about accessibility issues with agency websites
- Tracking, reviewing, and addressing feedback from the public feedback mechanism
- Conducting a comprehensive assessment to ensure accessibility considerations are incorporated in all agency functions
- Developing a plan to update agency policies to align with M-24-08
- Making all accessibility policies publicly available
Beyond these agency actions, the US Federal Government is committed to improving ICT accessibility by:
- Buying accessible products and services
- Designing and developing accessible digital experiences
- Creating, communicating, and delivering accessible content
- Evaluating, monitoring, collecting feedback, and remediating for accessibility
- Cultivating a positive culture of digital accessibility
With a heavier focus on Section 508, it’s crucial for federal agencies and the organizations that do business with them to ensure compliance.
Let CyraCom’s experts help you comply with Section 508 and the OMB Memorandum
CyraCom provides Section 508-compliant document remediation services. We can convert your electronic documents into a digital audio format that those with blindness or limited vision can listen to via a laptop, desktop computer, or mobile phone. We offer:
- Fast, free quotes: Contact our Section-508 experts at email@example.com to request a free quote.
- Third-party-accredited Information Security Management: CyraCom proved via a third-party audit that we preserve information privacy and security through a risk management process.
Have questions about Section 508 compliance? We can help.
Contact our experts at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask a question or request a free quote.