By now, I am sure you are aware of the changes made to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by the Obama Administration. Designed to address the barriers associated with employment of individuals with disabilities, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act outlines the compliance requirements for federal contractors.
Under Section 508, federal contractors must provide disabled employees access to technology comparable to the access available to non-disabled persons. The purpose is ensuring full access and encouraging diversity in the workforce by removing barriers to otherwise gainfully employable individuals.
How Federal Contractors Can Ensure Compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
The use of web-delivered information, tools and services creates a win-win for employers and employees. Federal contractors, must ensure compliance and support employees of all capabilities by providing resources that facilitate productivity.
Below are examples of the kinds of tools and web-based resources employers, whether DOD contractors or in the private sector, should consider when looking at the use of technology within their company:
- Clear visuals
- Supplement audio and video
- Accessible forms and files
- Assistive technology
- Avoid repetitive elements
An important component is frequent testing to ensure processes are in place and web based tools are integrated successfully to all systems. Some employers perform these functions internally while others opt to outsource to firms specializing in 508 compliance testing. In most cases, measures are straightforward and easily identifiable.
Whether an employer opts to work with external vendors or utilize internal staff to manage compliance, testing, assessment, action plans and implementation, at the very least validation should include a record of compliance issues, documented solutions, and a policy outlining the process and commitment to regularly assessing and addressing accessibility. It’s also useful to have internal measures and checklists in place as well, to identify issues as they come up and to drive compliance initiatives.
So, are you in compliance?