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Notice

On behalf of the Accessibility Committee of the Federal Chief Information Officers Council; Listening Session Regarding Improving the Accessibility of Government Information

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AGENCY:

Federal Chief Information Officers Council, Social Security Administration.

ACTION:

Notice of meeting.

SUMMARY:

This notice announces a listening session that the CIO Council is conducting in response to a memo dated July 19, 2010 from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on “Improving the Accessibility of Government Information”. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794d) requires Federal agencies to buy and use electronic and information technology (EIT) that is accessible. The July memo directs agencies to take stronger steps toward improving the acquisition and implementation of accessible technology. In order to better understand the needs of diverse communities and provide better solutions, the Federal Chief Information Officers Council (CIOC), in collaboration with the Chief Acquisition Officers Council, the GSA Office of Governmentwide Policy and the U.S. Access Board, has held several in a series of listening sessions to engage citizens and employees in expressing concerns and proposing ideas. The next listening session will be at Stanford University 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305 and will include time for generating a dialogue with technology companies. It will also include time for general comments from the public. Representatives from technology companies, persons with disabilities, their advocates, and government employees are invited to participate.

DATES:

Listening Session: Friday, June 17, 2011, from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time (PT).

Persons wishing to speak at the listening session can pre-register by contacting Emily Koo at (410) 965-4472 or Innovate.Accessibility@ssa.gov. Pre-registrants will have priority to speak during the session. Registration will also be available in person at Stanford University on the afternoon of the listening session.

ADDRESSES:

Meeting Location: Hewlett Teaching Center, room Hewlett 200, 370 Serra Mall, Stanford CA 94305.

Accommodations: The listening session will have sign language interpreters; real time captioning services, assistive listening devices and microphones. Materials will be available in Braille, large print and electronic formats. The meeting location is wheelchair accessible. Anyone needing other accommodations should include a specific request when registering at least three (3) days in advance.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

mailto: Emily Koo at (410) 965-4472 or Innovate.Accessibility@ssa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their EIT accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, open new opportunities for people with disabilities, and encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. 794d), agencies must give employees with disabilities and members of the public with disabilities access to information that is comparable to access available to others without disabilities.

Effective implementation of Section 508 is an essential element of President Obama's principles of open government, requiring that all government and data be accessible to all citizens. In order for the goal of open government to be meaningful for persons with disabilities, technology must also be accessible, including digital content. In July 2010, the OMB took steps to assure that the Federal government's progress in implementing Section 508 is stronger and achieves results more quickly.

Section 508 requires the General Services Administration (GSA) to provide technical assistance to agencies on Section 508 implementation. GSA has created a number of tools, available at http://www.Section508.gov, to help agencies develop accessible requirements, test the acceptance Start Printed Page 30228process, and share lessons learned and best practices. For example:

The OMB has directed that several actions be taken to improve Section 508 performance:

  • By Mid-January 2011, OMB required the GSA Office of Government-wide Policy (OGP) to provide updated guidance on making government EIT accessible. This guidance built upon existing resources to address challenges, increase oversight, and reduce costs associated with acquiring and managing EIT solutions that are not accessible.
  • By Mid-January 2011, OMB required the GSA OGP to update its general Section 508 training to offer refreshed continuous learning modules that can be used by contracting officers, program/project managers (especially those managing EIT programs), and contracting officer technical representatives (COTRs) as they fulfill their Federal Acquisition Certification requirements.
  • In March 2011, the GSA OGP and the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a survey to allow agencies to assess their implementation of Section 508, including accessibility of websites and other technology used by the agencies. DOJ will use this information in preparing its next assessment of agency compliance as required by the Rehabilitation Act. The CIOC Accessibility Committee will also use this information to identify best practices and lessons learned.
  • In the spring of 2011, the DOJ will issue a progress report on Federal agency compliance with Section 508, the first since 2004. Going forward, DOJ will meet its obligation to issue a report biennially.
  • Beginning in FY 2011, the GSA OGP began providing OMB a quarterly summary report containing results of Section 508 reviews of a sample of solicitations posted on FedBizOpps.gov. GSA will provide the agencies a summary of the sampling results to facilitate sharing of best practices and successes, and to address common challenges.

This listening session will focus on what other steps the Federal government can take to increase the accessibility and usability of government information and data for persons with disabilities.

Specific input from private industry is sought for the following questions:

  • How can the Federal government attract wider support from the greater information technology (IT) community in accessibility and assistive technology (AT)?
  • What is private industry doing to implement IT accessibility that the Federal government should follow?
  • From the perspective of vendors, how can implementation of Section 508 be improved?
  • What could the Federal government ask for that would allow vendors to better show that their products meet accessibility needs?
  • What support do newly emerging technology companies need to build in accessibility in the product and service offerings?

General input is sought on the following questions:

  • What can the Federal government do to use technology better or in new ways?
  • What can the Federal government do to make technology more accessible?
  • What emerging technologies does the Federal government use that you cannot?
  • What technologies should the Federal government use that would enhance your interactions with the Federal government?
  • What are state and local governments doing to implement information technology IT accessibility that the Federal government should follow?
  • What is academia doing to implement IT accessibility that the Federal government should follow?
  • What can the Federal government do to influence technology accessibility?
  • What can the Federal government do to support the availability of effective Communities of Practice on IT accessibility?
  • Do you believe the IT industry would benefit from a professional certification or credential that denotes a company's expertise in accessibility? How could that be implemented and managed, and should the government play a role in making that happen?

Feedback from the listening session will be used by, and shared across, agencies to improve accessibility and usability.

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Karen Palm,

Associate Chief Information Officer.

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[FR Doc. 2011-12642 Filed 5-23-11; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4191-02-P