Committee to refresh Section 508

Through the Section 508 Refresh, the Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee (TEITAC) hopes to build upon existing standards to better serve disabled Americans.

The Section 508 Refresh will further specify how agencies are expected to make electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities, which involves everything from Web sites to applications to multimedia and office products such as faxes and copiers.

In addition, anything the government uses, buys, maintains or procures needs to meet a series of access standards developed by the access board, said Pat Sheehan, Veterans Affairs Section 508 coordinator.

TEITAC, a federal advisory committee comprised of representatives from more than 40 companies, organizations, and federal agencies, will submit recommendations to update accessibility in November, according to yesterdays 'Section 508: More than an area code' panel at FOSE trade show in Washington, sponsored by 1105 Government Information Group, parent company of GCN.

The committee also is the first advisory board to use a TEITAC wiki site to publish its resources, recommended standards, and guidelines, thus making committee working documents available to the public for feedback. The subcommittees released their first preliminary drafts on March 12.

These recommendations are intended to ease the implementation efforts of Section 508, which have been thwarted by a lack of resources and security standard development.

The Education Department's Assistive Technology Program director Alex Koudry said that improved security standards may 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 for security standards are 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 site includes a buy accessible wizard to help officials identify what parts of Section 508 apply to specific procurements. also includes the '508 Universe' training site that shows how to design Section 508 accessible Web sites, buying accessible electronic information technology for requiring officials and building and buying accessible software, Koudry said.

States have continued to adopt Section 508 in greater numbers, which will likely give the standards more weight with industries. The Section 508 Access Board has also invited the European Union, Japan, and Australia to participate in TEITAC in order to harmonize domestic and international standards and establish consistent service to disabled individuals.


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