U.S. Access Board updating Section 508 disability regulations

Draft requirements cover Web sites, software and IT devices

For the first time in a decade, the U.S. Access Board is proposing an update to regulations covering access for disabled people for computer software, Web sites, cell phones and other IT products and devices.

On March 17, the Access Board released a draft proposal for standards for electronic and information technology in the federal sector covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. It also updates some portions of Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act. The notice will be published in the Federal Register March 22.

The draft “Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines” reorganizes requirements by function, rather than by product type. It also revises performance criteria and technical specifications with the goal of improving accessibility, adding clarity, addressing market trends and promoting harmonization with other standards, according to a news release.

The goal of the guidelines is to set standards to ensure that the technologies are accessible for people with a variety of disabilities, including hearing, seeing, physical or speech-related disabilities. Technologies covered by this rulemaking include telephones, cell phones, computer hardware and software, Web sites, media players, electronic documents and other devices.

Under the telecommunications law of 1996, the U.S. Access Board was given the responsibility to develop accessibility guidelines, which were published in 1998. Under the Rehabilitation Act amendments of 1998, Section 508 required that federal agencies ensure that technologies are accessible to people with disabilities. The Access Board published standards for compliance with section 508 in 2000.

Since the both sets of guidelines were issued, new technologies have been developed. The Access Board created the Telecommunications and Electronic and IT Advisory Committee in 2006 to help craft the updates, and the committee presented its recommendations in April 2008.

The Access Board is accepting public comments on the draft regulations until June 21. On April 1, the board will conduct an online Webinar to review and explain the draft proposal.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group