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The government’s Section 508 transparency problem

Agencies have a transparency problem when it comes to Section 508. It’s not that agencies are ignoring the law Congress passed 24 years ago to ensure federal technology is accessible to people with disabilities. It’s the lack of discussion, data, evidence or even reporting of progress that is causing concern on Capitol Hill and among other experts.

The Biden administration’s clarion call for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEI&A) is ringing hollow unless agencies do more to show and tell how they are meeting both the spirit and intent of Section 508.

“Given the current absence of public, governmentwide evaluations of federal technology accessibility, it is critical that the General Services Administration’s timely data and analysis be made available to Congress so that we may better evaluate compliance with and the effectiveness of existing accessibility laws and programs,” wrote a bipartisan group of senators in an Oct. 7 letter to GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. “Accessible websites and technology are extremely important to these populations—and the federal employees who provide them services—yet there is mounting evidence the government is not meeting its obligations as required by Section 508.”

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, is leading the charge to bring some sunlight onto agency 508 efforts.


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