Group plans standards to help enhance Section 508 efforts

The Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee is developing standards its members hope will improve agencies' ability to comply with Section 508's accessibility requirements.

The Section 508 Refresh will further specify how agencies are expected to make IT accessible to people with disabilities'a goal that involves everything from Web sites and applications to multimedia and copiers.

In addition, anything the government uses, buys, maintains or procures needs to meet standards developed by the Access Board, said Pat Sheehan, the Veterans Affairs Department's Section 508 coordinator.

TEITAC, a federal advisory committee comprising representatives from more than 40 companies, organizations and federal agencies, will submit recommendations to update accessibility in November, according to speakers on a panel at the FOSE trade show in Washington sponsored by 1105 Government Information Group, parent company of GCN.

The recommendations are intended to ease the implementation of Section 508, which has been thwarted by a lack of resources and security standards.

The Education Department's Assistive Technology Program director Alex Koudry said improved security standards could improve Section 508 efficiency.

'Security and accessibility are very much related'when you talk about information assurance, it is as much making sure the right people get what they need as it is keeping the bad people out, so they have a lot of the same challenges,' Koudry said. 'We have been exploring how compliance [with] security standards [is] ensured and looking for ways to use the same mechanisms for 508.'

In addition to security and accessibility, the government has made efforts to help educate agencies and private-sector companies through the Section508.gov Web site.. The site includes a wizard to help officials identify what parts of Section 508 apply to specific procurements.

Section508.gov also includes the training site 508 Universe, which shows how to design Section 508 accessible Web sites, buy accessible IT products, and build and buy accessible software, Koudry said.

States have continued to adopt Section 508 in greater numbers, which will likely give the standards more weight with industry.

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