Report from the Department of Justice on Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

The Department of Justice released a report on the federal government’s compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires federal agencies to ensure that the electronic and information technology (EIT) they procure, develop, maintain, and use is accessible to people with disabilities.  The last report on Section 508 compliance was issued in 2004; the current report covers fiscal year 2010.  Overall, the report found that agencies of the federal government continue to experience challenges in fully complying with Section 508.  Only slightly over 50% of agencies had policies in place to implement the accessibility requirements.  The great majority of agencies that developed software, videos, or multimedia products did not have a process to ensure accessibility of those products.  Agencies also reported great difficulty in ensuring that federal contractors and programs that receive federal funds provide EIT that is accessible.

Civil Rights & Technology

The Administration is seeking input on how the federal government can improve compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 508 requires all of the federal government’s websites and electronic information to be accessible to people with disabilities. People can submit ideas, vote on existing ideas, or add comments on the Section 508 website. The comment period has been extended indefinitely while the administration addresses accessibility issues with the website.

US Access Board announces final session to hear concerns about accessibility of government information for people with disabilities

The US Access Board announced that it will conduct a final listening session that will focus on what steps the federal government can take to increase the accessibility and usability of government information and data for persons with disabilities. The federal government is looking for ways to improve Section 508 performance. In 1998 Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act and added Section 508 which requires all federal agencies to make information technology accessible to employees and member of the public who have disabilities. The listening session will be September 8, 2011 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Learn more about how to participate.

Rehabilitation Act – Section 508

President Obama has announced renewed efforts of his Administration to improve compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.  Section 508 requires the federal government to make electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.  Twelve years after enactment of this law, many people with disabilities still encounter many accessibility barriers, including when they try to obtain information or services through government websites.

Disability Policy Call on Wednesday

The next White House Disability call is Wednesday July 27th at 1:00 pm. The call will feature information on technology, Section 508 of the Rehab Act, independent agencies, emergency preparedness, employment, budgetary issues, and other topics. To join the call, dial in to (866) 298-7926 and say White House Disability Call (instead of a code).

Disability advocates address accessibility issues with the State Department

The DPC and other members of the CCD International Task Force met with Judy Heumann, the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the Department of State. Ms Heumann described her efforts to infuse the issue of disability throughout all parts of the State Department. International task force members shared concerns with Ms. Heumann about inaccessible embassies, the difficulty people with disabilities have in obtaining a tourist visa, hiring practices, the State Department’s compliance with Section 508 web accessibility standards, and ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The task force plans to meet with Ms. Heumann periodically.