Under Section 508, all federal agencies must purchase Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) that are accessible to people with disabilities, both to their employees and to the public. ICT includes computers, software, copiers, phone systems, websites, videos, and more: every product or service that is used to store, display, create, or communicate information.
Section 508 has extended to other parts of the public sector as well — state governments, universities, libraries, and other public institutions have adopted it as their accessibility touchstone. Soon the US Department of Justice may extend the technological requirements of Section 508 over all public accommodations.
Section 508 and the standards for ICT accessibility put forth by the Access Board are changing the way agencies and technology providers do business together. Inclusive Technologies works with federal agencies, groups of employees with disabilities, and ICT companies to make this process smooth and effective. Our principal, Jim Tobias, co-Chaired the 2006-2008 Access Board advisory committee that updated these regulations; he and other staff are involved in the revision of policies and procedures that will guide how Section 508 is actually implemented.
Our goal is to help both public and private sector organizations achieve their Section 508 goals, whether that’s just compliance, or a broader view of accessibility.
Our 508 services include product testing, staff training, policy and procedure development, and strategic planning. To date we have engaged with more than 20 companies and public sector agencies, and have evaluated close to 100 products and services. We’ve been doing Section 508 work since it began. The new version of Section 508 was approved by the Access Board, and is undergoing final review by OMB. We worked on several sets of comments with partners from industry and consumer advocacy; please contact us if you’re interested in participating.
In addition, we worked with a group of public sector accessibility experts to make recommendations on how Section 508 reporting and procurement could be improved. Let us know what you think!