As the pressure on government agencies to comply with digital accessibility laws heats up, the requirements for their vendors are getting stricter.
In December 2022, Congress passed HR 2617, which gives federal agencies until August 2023 to begin reporting on the accessibility of their information and communications technology (ICT) under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Meanwhile, states may soon be held accountable for meeting specific web accessibility guidelines to comply with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
These tightening government accessibility regulations mean companies that do business with the government must also ensure their products are accessible—or risk losing revenue. And with buyers’ increasing focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA), vendors need to establish sustainable, effective digital accessibility programs to keep government business.
In our recent webinar, identity verification platform—and U.S. government vendor—Socure discussed how a shift to agile accessibility empowered its team to swiftly achieve and maintain compliance, while creating seamless experiences for all users. Our panel included:
- Che-Bin Liu, Director of Software Engineering, Socure
- Jordan Burris, Vice President and Head of Public Sector Strategy, Socure
- Ian Lowe, Chief Marketing Officer, Level Access
Drawing on our conversation, this post will explore why it’s crucial for government vendors to prioritize digital accessibility—and why an agile approach is the only sustainable way for organizations to embrace inclusion.
With accessibility a growing government priority, the pressure is on for vendors
U.S. federal government entities have long been legally required to purchase accessible digital technology under Section 508. But a wave of recent activity at the federal level—including President Biden’s 2021 executive order on DEIA, as well as HR 2617—has thrown digital accessibility, and related government accessibility regulations, into the national spotlight in an unprecedented way.
Additionally, many individual states, including California, Massachusetts, and Colorado, have adopted their own government accessibility regulations mirroring Section 508. And attention to online inclusion at the state level is only set to intensify with the Department of Justice’s proposed new ADA Title II regulations.
This heightened awareness around the importance of digital accessibility for both federal and state governments also puts more pressure on government vendors, like Socure, to create inclusive digital products. Failing to meet—and maintain—compliance can damage existing relationships with government clients, and block vendors from new opportunities.
Agile accessibility is key to staying competitive
Organizations selling to government agencies must demonstrate a genuine, lasting commitment to inclusion—or risk losing business to more accessible competitors. This means not only creating accessible products but establishing a program to ensure accessibility for the long-term.
The only sustainable way to build and maintain inclusive products is through an agile approach to accessibility: embedding accessibility into every stage of the digital experience life cycle, beginning with ideation and design, and continually iterating on progress.
At Socure, for example, designers evaluate the accessibility of concepts before sending them to development. Developers test code for accessibility issues while the product is still in a staging environment. And the team monitors live properties on an ongoing basis to identify opportunities for improvement.
“Addressing accessibility after the product is built is time-consuming, requiring costly re-engineering. We needed cross-collaboration—a shared commitment to embed accessibility at every phase of the software development life cycle. From there, we were much more efficient, improving our time to market with every release, and saving us money.”
—Che-Bin Liu, Director of Software Engineering, Socure
When vendors incorporate accessibility into their day-to-day operations—treating it as an ongoing journey rather than a one-time project—they mitigate the risk that a product will fall out of compliance as it evolves. They also strengthen their position in the market. By ensuring that products and features are inclusive from the start, organizations minimize the time needed to retroactively fix problems, freeing up resources for building new, innovative solutions that will keep them one step ahead of the competition.
Over time, many vendors come to realize that making accessibility an ongoing priority pays off in more than revenue. Accessibility often aligns with organizations’ own missions and values. And accessible experiences are more usable for everyone.
“We realized that accessibility isn’t just a compliance requirement, and something our customers expect from us. It’s crucial for us to be able to achieve our mission to serve 100 percent of our users.”
—Jordan Burris, Vice President and Head of Public Sector Strategy, Socure
Equip your team to take an agile approach
Agile accessibility is a team effort, and staying on top of government accessibility regulations isn’t a single person’s job. To prioritize inclusion in every phase of digital experience creation, organizations need to distribute the work. This requires making sure every role, from design to development, has the necessary skills and resources to weave accessibility into their regular responsibilities.
Level Access provides the tooling and education required for a cross-functional, agile approach to accessibility. From role-specific training to detailed design evaluations, developer tools, and monitoring and analytics, our end-to-end solution empowers organizations to do more than achieve compliance—our customers lead the conversation about lasting, meaningful inclusion.
“We needed a partner that could help us fill our knowledge gap, providing ongoing education and training, as well as tooling integration, monitoring, and actionable reporting. That partner was Level Access.”
—Che-Bin Liu, Director of Software Engineering, Socure
To start your shift to agile accessibility, engage with our team today.
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