USPTO achieves accessibility

USPTO Web site

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is the first agency to make all of its electronic information accessible to people with disabilities, officials announced May 14.

The agency's procurement policies ensure that purchases of electronic products and services follow accessibility standards, officials said, and that has resulted in USPTO becoming fully compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

"We have found that Section 508 standards are simply good business practices that complement a 21st-century agency that is responsive to the needs of its employees and customers," undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property James Rogan said in a statement.

The General Services Administration is using USPTO's Section 508 program as a guide for procurement officials during nationwide training programs, USPTO officials said. The agency's Web site is also considered by PricewaterhouseCoopers to be the most accessible out of 144 federal government sites.

USPTO's Section 508 program is based on creating awareness, placing responsibility and ensuring enforcement, officials said. The agency's procurement officials, contractors and vendors are educated on the principles of the program. Employees purchasing electronic products must certify that the products are compliant, and purchase requests will not be processed unless they have complete Section 508 documentation, officials said.

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