Departments can check Section 504 for direction on 508

Departments can check Section 504 for direction on 508

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

MAY 10—Government procurement officers wondering how to redesign their Web sites to comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 should turn to Section 504 for help, officials said.

Although Section 508 contains no regulations that deal specifically with accessibility to federal Web sites, Section 504 clearly states that departments should make reasonable efforts to ensure the information on their sites is accessible to users with disabilities, said Mary Lou Mobley, an accessibility specialist for the Justice Department. She spoke at a meeting on Capitol Hill about Section 508 hosted by Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.).

Section 508 has no enforcement component other than the Federal Acquisition Regulation, which deals with procurement matters, she said. And there is no regulation ordering federal employees to rid their departments of software, kiosks or Web sites that do not meet 508 standards set by the Access Board, she said.

But technology purchased after June 25 must meet the requirements, she said.

Several officials at the gathering, including Mobley, said agencies should already be working to make sites accessible to the disabled under Section 504. The officials agreed that, although no department should remove noncompliant Web pages, managers should provide adequate contact information for those who cannot make use of the site.

Many departments have used Section 508 regulations to justify reassessing and correcting problems with existing Web sites.


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