IRS builds accessibility into enterprise architecture

IRS builds accessibility into enterprise architecture

The IRS has incorporated Section 508 requirements into its enterprise architecture and lifecycle management policies.

"Section 508 compliance has to be part of an agency's business plan and enterprise architecture" because 10.7 percent of IRS employees have disabilities, T.J. Cannady said yesterday.

Cannady, the IRS' program manager for the Information Resources Accessibility Program, and other officials from the tax agency discussed the service's efforts to comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 during a panel at the Interagency Disability Educational Awareness Showcase 2003.

IRAP provides technical support to IRS offices as they work to make systems compliant, Cannady said.

At the IRS, IT planners are trying to building compliance into systems from the start to minimize costs. "Section 508 compliance can be expensive if you try to add it on the back end," she said. "You have to plan for it from the beginning.'

The idea is comparable to the agency's view on the application of the Tax Code, Cannady said. "I am reminded of the IRS mission statement of applying the tax laws with integrity and fairness to everyone."

Charles Murray, an IRS computer scientist, emphasized that Section 508 compliance is included in the enterprise lifecycle plan the service adopted in 2001.

Janice Thomas, an accessibility technology specialist for IRAP, said incorporating 508 requirements into an agency's enterprise architecture involves much more than just adding a paragraph summarizing the law's requirements.

The requirements must be integrated into enterprise architecture provisions that detail applications technology, software development and telecommunications systems, Thomas said. "You want to make sure you are developing systems that serve everyone."

The requirements also must apply to methods of interacting with the public as well as to an agency's help desk and support services, she said.

Murray added that the best way to ensure that 508 considerations are being taken into account during systems development is to create project milestones for developers to review accessibility considerations.

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