Public Comment Welcome on Proposed Disabilities Regulations

Public Comment Welcome on Proposed Disabilities Regulations

By Gail Repsher Emery, Staff Writer

JAN. 26 ? The proposed federal acquisition regulation on electronic and information technology accessibility referred to as Section 508 is open to public comment by writing to the General Services Administration.

The proposed regulation, published in the Federal Register Jan. 22, implements standards on technology accessibility issued by the Access Board Dec. 21. The board is an independent federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 requires that agencies develop, procure, maintain and use electronic and information technologies that are accessible to people with disabilities, unless it would pose an undue burden to do so.

The Access Board standards tell government agencies ? and companies that sell technology to government ? how to make their computers, software, networks, copy machines and Web sites compliant. The rules do not require agencies to retrofit existing technology.

The proposed rule defines the term "electronic and information technology" for procurement officials and provides guidance on how to implement the Access Board's standards. ITAA and the GSA will host seminars around the country to explain the rules.

Federal agencies will have to comply with the rules beginning June 21. Comments should be submitted in writing by March 23 to the attention of Laurie Duarte at the General Services Administration, FAR Secretariat, 1800 F St. NW, Room 4035, Washington, D.C. 20405 or e-mailed to farcase.1999-607@gsa.gov
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