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In my last post I shared my notes from the Federal Leadership Panel Last at last week’s 2015 Section 508 Interagency Accessibility Forum for Federal Government employees and contractors. This post includes my notes from a workshop on developing and implementing a successful Section 508 program.

Developing an Effective Section 508 Program

​In this talk by GSA Section 508 Coordinator Quentin Scott she outlined a recommended approach for agencies developing a 508 program, including:

  • Take a depth breath and don’t panic – you are about to make a difference!
  • Work within your means to impact the highest risk items you can impact
  • Start with your own organization – find others interested in or with knowledge on Section 508 who can help
    • Project managers, developers and content managers
    • Acquisition officials
    • Office of civil rights
    • Human Resources
  • Roles and Responsibilities of the Coordinator
    • Setup and manage the section 508 program
    • Establish monitor and enforce Section 508 agency policy
    • Begin a 508 testing environment
    • Provide expect technical advice and guidance
    • Provide agency and individual training
    • Acquire a working budget
    • Inform agency employees on how to file a Section 508 compliant
    • Generally responsible for bi-annual OMB Section 508 report
    • Agency advocate for persons with disabilities
  • Recruit regional Section 508 Coordinators and POCs
    • Add to agency Section 508 policy
    • Request appointees from the HSSO level
    • Reach out to known interested employees
    • Meet with agency coordinator
  • Establish a working group to help with establishing policy, procedures and other mission objectives
    • The group should include users with disabilities and users of assistive technology
    • The working group is a good way to find detailees
    • Reach out to the list of coordinators, interested parties, people that use assistive technology or are otherwise engaged in the issue
  • Set Agency Policy and Handbooks
    • Policy on publishing accessible online contet
      • Handbook: how to create accessible online systems
    • Policy on Section 508 compliance of agency web systems
      • Handbook: how to test for 508 compliance during the development lifecycle
  • Section 508 Policy and Procedures
    • Outline your agency expectations / requirements to comply with the 508 law
    • Consider modifying what may be already in place
    • View other agency policies and procedures
    • DoD has a stock Section 508 policy that you can use and borrow to build a policy for your agency
  • Vetting the Section 508 Policy
    • Go through the formal vetting process for policies
    • Address the policy comments
    • Publish and educate around it!
  • Assemble a 508 test team
    • Obtain an automated tool for web testing
    • Provide manual and automated testing
    • Establish manual test methodology
    • Recruit AT users
  • Testing for Section 508 and WCAG 2.0
    • Consult with your CIO or agency contact to find websites, web applications that need testing
    • Get commitment from customers to remediate after testing – ask them BEFORE you do the testing if they will be able to commit to doing the remediation after you have completed the testing
    • Advertise availability of testing resources through agency channels
    • Expand your testing capability over time
    • Maintain a database tracking system
    • Include usability testing when possible
  • Document Remediation
    • Help your agency to fix all those documents
    • Assemble a team that can help with the remediation of office documents
    • Start simple and expand over time
    • Cost effective, use in-house service
    • Got money? Solicit the requirement. The cost of this is enormous if you send it out to a contractor.
  • Section 508 Program Website
    • Roles and responsibilities
    • How to guidance
    • Policy
    • Handbooks
    • 508 Coordinators by Region
    • Links to resources and section508.gov
    • How to guidance (Tutorials and Checklists)
    • Technical Tools and Federal Resources
    • Complaint Procedure
    • Training – GSA Courses
  •  Training
    • How to…
    • Office document remediation (Word,Excel, PPT, PDF)
    • Remediation of systems, testing to standards
    • Use video!!
  • Agency Solicitation Reviews
    • Partner with procurement officials
    • Discuss need for evaluation and review process for IT procurements
    • Discuss OMB reporting template requirement
    • CO accountability, CIO policy
    • BuyAccessible Wizard
    •  VPAT
    • Facilitate a tracking method for solicitation assessment reviews
  • Summary
    • Be realistic in your plan
    • Connect with other federal coordinators when needed
    • Remember, you can only do what you can do, develop a plan based on your resources
    • Plan to focus on those targeted metrics including in your OMB reporting template

You can download the slides from this presentation at www.peatworks.org/federalforum.

In my next post I’ll share notes from a workshop by GSA Information Resources Management Division Director John Sullivan outlining the agency’s strategic plan for Section 508.