SSB recommends that organizations maintain a central repository of the product records that are maintained for each product or service that is covered under the CVAA. This central repository should be maintained by a single group – generally compliance – that has the authority to require and compel products to submit the relevant paperwork.
For many organizations SSB works with, a strong, central authority that governs accessibility is a materially different governance model than that currently used for accessibility. Most organizations have a governance model that requires each product to maintain their own records for accessibility. A central accessibility office plays a coordinating and supporting role across the organization, but has no authority to compel product groups to produce documentation. Such a model has generally been developed under and aligns well with accessibility procurement laws such as Section 508. Section 508, however, has no enforcement mechanism, as it relates to manufacturers and is simply a procurement law. In the case of Section 508, the only potential risk to organizations is that a lack of accessibility will cause the products they offer to be viewed as less competitive in a bid and be scored accordingly. Given the many disparate approaches to Section 508 compliance throughout the US Federal government, however, it is decidedly not the case that a product that is inaccessible will not be able to access the public sector market. A lack of accessibility at most means that specific, key Federal accounts may be more difficult to access. Such a profile means that the risk of non-compliance under Section 508 is generally low and that governance models devoted to addressing issues are accordingly loose.
This is decidedly not the case with the CVAA. The CVAA regulations are enforced by the FCC and can cause organizations to see damages up to $100,000 a day and $1,000,000 dollars in total for each complaint. Further, covered organizations are required to file a certification with the FCC that records of the organization’s efforts to conform to the requirements “are being kept in accordance with this section.” The certification is “supported with an affidavit or declaration under penalty of perjury, signed and dated by the authorized officer of the company with personal knowledge of the representations provided in the company’s certification, verifying the truth and accuracy of the information therein.” This certification provides a clear connotation that records are being actively kept and required rather than passively produced, as products deem appropriate. By not centralizing the authority, an organization runs the material risk that a product will not develop or maintain the relevant records. In that event, should a complaint occur, the organization would find itself in the uncomfortable position of having certified to the FCC that records are being kept when, in fact, no such records exist. A basic governance model requiring that these records be filed centrally with a group under the authority of the certifying party would seem to meet the requirements of the FCC and ensure conformance to the process. Such a governance model is in line with the intent of the FCC in developing the record keeping requirements of the Act.
Given this, SSB recommends clients pursue strong conformance with the requirements and develop a central recordkeeping repository. This repository would hold all the records required for product groups and effectively meet the requirements contemplated by the FCC under 47 CFR 14.31 (a) and (b). While organizations can develop such a repository, SSB recommends organizations use AMP or a similar electronic system to gather and store the records, as this materially lessens the cost and complexity of maintaining and implementing the system while drastically increasing conformance.