On January 24th the office of the President released a memorandum stating that:
"The Administration is committed to increasing transparency and improving access to government information and data for all people. This increased transparency requires that information be made available to the public in formats that provide equal access to persons with disabilities. Essential to meeting this objective is ensuring that all electronic and information technology (EIT) that is developed, procured, maintained, or used by the Federal Government is accessible, as required by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Many Federal agencies' guidance and plans, such as the 2012 Digital Government strategy, include EIT accessibility as a strategic outcome. However, implementation of Section 508 across agencies is not consistent, and a more comprehensive approach is needed to build and sustain an accessible Federal technology environment."
The memorandum includes a detailed strategic plan detailing actions that need to be taken to increase transparency, strengthen accountability, improve collaboration regarding accessible electronic and information technology, and to create a more standardized and comprehensive level of compliance to Section 508 across the Federal Government. The new strategic plan is based on the results of the Department of Justice Section 508 compliance survey and various sessions and and national engagements held by the Federal Chief Information Officers council.
The strategic plan's three governing principles - increasing transparency, strengthening accountability, and improving collaboration - are meant to improve citizen engagement, organizational structures, clarification and definition of roles, and foster best practices across agencies. The strategic plan is yet another indication of a vested interest, on the behalf of President Obama's administration, in not just improving accessibility and taking measures to accomodate people with disabilities in general, but specifically in updating regulations to include web accessibility and internet communications and commerce.
Read the entire "Strategic Plan for Improving Management of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act" here.
Deque Systems will be leading a free seminar at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on February 21st. The title of the seminar is "A Case Study in Real-World Section 508 Compliance: How the VA is deploying one of the largest section 508 programs in government". This seminar will feature speakers from the Department of Veterans Affairs and experts from Deque, discussing the inside story of how the VA is deploying one of the largest Section 508 Compliance program in government. Also, Bruce Bailey (US Access Board) will be on hand to present information about the Section 508 refresh.