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"The Accessibility Forum brings accessibility stake-holders together to support informed decisions about E&IT products relative to Section 508."

Accessibility Forum Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the Accessibility Forum?
  2. What is the relationship between Section 508 and the Accessibility Forum?
  3. Who are the key players in the Forum Staff?
  4.  I'm an E&IT vendor. Can I get my product or service 508 certified by the Accessibility Forum?
  5. In what ways is the Forum dedicated to providing added value?
  6. The Forum Staff is currently developing tools for use by the federal government and E&IT industry companies. How is that related to the Accessibility Forum?
  7. What specific tools are the Forum Staff providing?

1.  What is the Accessibility Forum?

The Accessibility Forum began in May of 2001 as an ongoing collaboration among stakeholders affected by Section 508 including user, industry, government, and other communities. Members used the Forum to focus on long-term solutions for the successful understanding and implementation of Section 508.

Click here for more information.

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2.  What is the relationship between Section 508 and the Accessibility Forum?

The intent of Section 508 is to ensure access to electronic and information technology for people with disabilities. The Access Board established a standard for accessibility on December 21, 2000. The Accessibility Forum was founded to assist stakeholders, including user, industry, government, and other communities, in the implementation of Section 508. The Forum does not function as a standards-making organization—that work is and will continue to be the responsibility of the Access Board.

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3.  Who are the key players in the Forum Staff?

GSA, recognizing the need for a core group of people to assist the Accessibility Forum, has assembled a Forum staff to provide facilitation, infrastructure, and continuity to the effort. GSA has appointed an experienced Program Director and has also contracted for professional support (from ATI, and Altarum) to carry on the day-to-day efforts in support of the coalition and development of tools and procedures to help make implementation of Section 508 successful. Together these individuals comprise the Forum Staff, and the Staff provides assistance in facilitating, moderating, coordinating, and planning meetings in addition to providing support in research, project documentation, publicity activities, and other efforts.

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4.  I'm an E&IT vendor. Can I get my product or service 508 certified by the Accessibility Forum?

The Forum does not certify products ore services, nor does the Section 508 Statute require a certification process. It is the responsibility of each Federal agency to procure E&IT products that meet the requirements of Section 508.

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5.  In what ways is the Forum dedicated to providing added value?

  • Finding practical means to help Government procure products and services that conform to the Access board Standard for E&IT accessibility
  • Increasing the understanding of how products and services can meet Section 508 requirements
  • Providing the means for diverse stakeholders to communicate on issues and opportunities to enhance accessibility
  • Finding the balance – the right tradeoffs between all the stakeholder concerns

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6.  The Forum Staff is currently developing tools for use by the federal government and E&IT industry companies. How is that related to the Accessibility Forum?

Under the law it is the responsibility of federal agencies to comply with Section 508. While industry has not compliance responsibility, they are striving to make products and provide services that conform to the Access Board standard. Accessibility Forum meetings were essential in both pointing out the need for help in federal agencies for making compliant acquisitions and in providing much of the research that was used as the underpinning of the tools. The research was established in the Quick Reference Guide.

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7. What specific tools is the Forum Staff providing?

The Forum Staff has developed The Buy Accessible Wizard and the Buy Accessible Data Center, both currently being used by federal employees with acquisition responsibilities and E&IT companies interested in providing federal agencies with the latest accessibility information about their products and services. Development work on these tools is conducted via a Focus Group process to define and review requirements. Click here for more information about Focus Groups and how you can participate (Focus Group Activity)

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