Just announced: Level Access and eSSENTIAL Accessibility agree to merge! Read more.

What is the Section 508 Strategic Plan?  The idea was first introduced in July 2011 when the President announced an effort to develop a strategic plan for Section 508.  The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has been leading the effort to map out the next steps to improve compliance and accessibility across the federal government. Two interagency leadership entities, the Chief Information Officers (CIO) and Chief Acquisitions Officers (CAO) Council and the General Services Administration, have been working with OMB this past year to identify the goals and components of the plan.

How will the strategic plan improve compliance with Section 508?  Early drafts include increased oversight, metrics, resources, collaborating and reporting requirements.  The Accessibility Committee, a co-led subordinate of both the CIO and CAO Councils, has been busy developing best practices to assist agencies in improving their game.  It isn’t clear how many of the suggestions garnered through the crowdsourcing effort this past spring made it into the final document, but some interesting insights were offered – you can check them out at http://section508.ideascale.com/.

When will the strategic plan be issued?  Like the DOJ report on the results of their survey, the date for the release of the strategic plan has been fluid.  Initially expected early in calendar year 2012, we can now expect a release by the end of the year. The release appears to be in review within OMB, so the issuance may be close. While OMB itself doesn’t have statutory authority to enforce compliance, it does possess the bully pulpit of the owning the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and therefore is intimately involved in ensuring compliance with the law.

This shouldn’t come as a shock to federal agencies.  The White House, OMB, GSA and the Accessibility Committee have been talking with agencies throughout the drafting of the plan.  Many are already planning or even executing the expected changes.  What is clear is that compliance with accessibility mandates is going to be a clear focus this year and agencies, their customers and their business suppliers should be seeing that impact online and in contracts.  Let’s all plan to see measurable improvements in 2013.