Report urges Congress to make legislative branch compliant with Section 508

Report urges Congress to make legislative branch compliant with Section 508

The Board of Directors of the Compliance Office has recommended that Congress order all legislative branch entities to become Section 508 compliant. Currently, Congress mandates only that the executive and judicial branches provide electronic information accessible to the disabled.

The legislative branch would include Congress, the Government Printing Office, the General Accounting Office and the Library of Congress. Currently, the legislative branch can voluntarily make Web sites and other IT products compliant, but there is no requirement.

Congress established the Compliance Office to monitor federal law relating to employment of and access to public services and accommodations by disabled persons. The board reports to Congress every two years, but decided to go forward with this report early because of the importance of the issue, said Alma Candelaria, a Compliance Office spokeswoman.

'I don't know why Congress did not include themselves in the bill,' said Bill Thompson, Compliance Office executive director. 'The committee report that accompanied the bill simply said it did not apply to the legislative branch. We are suggesting it should.'

Thompson said his office does not track how many congressional sites are compliant, but said at least some of the legislative branch agencies are making strides.

The GAO recently put a report on voting for the disabled in text format that can be read by a text reader for the first time.

GPO also made new and archived documents, graphs and even some video clips accessible.

Starting last June, the executive and legislative branches had to make sure all new information technology products and services complied with the requirements. Only 54 percent of all federal agencies offer some kind of disability access, according to the State and Federal E-Government in the United States 2001 report by Brown University's Taubman Center.

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