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Re: Accessible Applications

for

From: Karl Groves
Date: May 14, 2008 8:30AM


> So documentation on how procured Electronic and Information Technology
> (EIT)
> is not accessible is required.

Actually, the required documentation is to show that the procuring official
has done their market research to ensure that what they've purchased is the
most accessible product which meets business needs.

> An industry group worked with the GSA
> to
> produce a standard way of documenting this, the VPAT. Other forms of
> documentation will do, but why reinvent the wheel?

There are so many reasons why. First and foremost, vendor-supplied VPATS are
often insufficiently informative and often inaccurate. I've seen VPATS where
the vendor has marked "fully supports" for every provision - even ones which
don't even apply to the product! Secondly, procuring officials will take a
VPAT at face value without any further inquiry into the product just so they
can buy the product they want to buy. Third, a VPAT has no teeth. All it
does is fulfill a FAR Part 10 requirement for market research. Nothing
anywhere says that the VPAT (or any other documentation) defines acceptance
criteria for a procurement.

Don't get me wrong. Neither of these is a fault of the VPAT itself. I agree
that it can be a great tool if used correctly. In my opinion, VPATs should
be created by an independent third party who has actually performed an
assessment on the product. For instance, whenever my company creates a
VPAT, we have criteria defined for how much review is required before we'll
do one. It includes manual review as well as use case testing. This ensures
that we're sufficiently familiar with the product to make well informed
statements about the conformance level. Any areas where the product does
not fully support is described clearly in the document. Then a procuring
official has information in their hands which is accurate, reliable, and
based on thorough review.


Karl Groves
AIM/YIM: karlcore
Skype: eight.pistons
www.WebAccessStrategies.com

> -----Original Message-----
> From: <EMAIL REMOVED> [mailto:webaim-forum-
> <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Darian Glover
> Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 11:07 PM
> To: WebAIM Discussion List
> Cc: <EMAIL REMOVED> ; <EMAIL REMOVED> ;
> <EMAIL REMOVED> ; <EMAIL REMOVED> ;
> <EMAIL REMOVED> ; <EMAIL REMOVED> ; lyris-confirm-
> <EMAIL REMOVED> ; <EMAIL REMOVED> ; Korey J Singleton
> Subject: Re: [WebAIM] Accessible Applications
>
> There is has been a very thoughtful discussion on what I previously
> wrote
> (see below). I did not intend to imply that VPATs themselves were
> required
> by law. This is not the place to discuss the finer details between
> Federal
> law, regulations, policy, mandates, guidance, etc. and I am no lawyer.
> But
> I will try to break it down if only academic purposes.
>
> As some have pointed out the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) has
> language that requires agency heads to ensure "acquisition
> planners...address Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility
> Standards." The FAR goes on to state a policy to "assess the
> availability
> of electronic and information technology." The FAR requirement for
> "market
> research" cites a subpart that states "The requiring official must
> document
> in writing the nonavailability, including a description of market
> research
> performed and which standards cannot be met, and provide documentation
> to
> the contracting officer for inclusion in the contract file." (Full
> text of
> all of this is below.)
>
> We have the law (Section 508). We have a regulation (FAR) that
> provides
> related policy and requirements. The key piece to take away is that
> during
> the procurement process documentation is required on "which standards
> cannot
> be met."
>
> This is where VPATs come in. Or more specifially an industry group and
> the
> General Services Administration:
>
> "The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) is committed to
> helping
> the Federal Government implement Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
> In
> 2001, ITI partnered with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)
> to
> create a simple, Internet-based tool to assist Federal contracting and
> procurement officials in fulfilling the new market research
> requirements
> contained in the Section 508 implementing regulations. The result: the
> Voluntary Product Accessibility Template(TM), or VPAT(TM)."
>
> Who is this ITI? According to their web site they are "the premier
> group of
> the nation's leading high-tech companies and widely recognized as the
> tech
> industry's most effective lobbying organization in Washington, in
> various
> foreign capitals, and the WTO." Their membership includes the likes of
> Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, and even eBay.
>
> So documentation on how procured Electronic and Information Technology
> (EIT)
> is not accessible is required. An industry group worked with the GSA
> to
> produce a standard way of documenting this, the VPAT. Other forms of
> documentation will do, but why reinvent the wheel?
>
> Now there may be a question as to what exactly is EIT. That's defined
> in:
>
> 36 CFR Part 1194
> Subpart B - Technical Standards
>
> 1194.21 Software applications and operating systems.
> 1194.22 Web-based intranet and internet information and
> applications.
> 1194.23 Telecommunications products.
> 1194.24 Video and multimedia products.
> 1194.25 Self contained, closed products.
> 1194.26 Desktop and portable computers.
>
>
> All of this is only a small amount of the paperwork we have here in
> Washington, DC. Some very well intentioned red tape. Again, I'm not a
> lawyer nor am a procurement official. I'm a cog that tries to keep
> things
> moving forward.
>
>
> Darian.
>
>
>
> = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
>
> Section 508
>
> "In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal
> agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible
> to
> people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an
> individual's ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily.
> Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information
> technology, to
> make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to
> 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 disabled employees and members
> of the
> public access to information that is comparable to the access available
> to
> others. It is recommended that you review the laws and regulations
> listed
> below to further your understanding about Section 508 and how you can
> support implementation."
>
>
> "Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - Prohibits discrimination and
> ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment,
> state
> and local government services, public accommodations, commercial
> facilities,
> and transportation. The ADA requires that reasonable accommodations be
> provided in meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities.
> Additional
> technical assistance regarding the ADA is available through the ADA
> Technical Assistance Program."
>
> "Assistive Technology Act of 1998 - The Assistive Technology Act
> establishes
> a grant program, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, to
> provide Federal funds to support State programs that address the
> assistive
> technology needs of individuals with disabilities."
>
> "Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 - Section 255 of the
> requires manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and providers of
> telecommunications services to ensure that such equipment and services
> are
> accessible to persons with disabilities, if readily achievable. The
> Federal
> Communications Commission's Report and Order Implementing Section 255
> was
> released in September 1999."
>
> "Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act - Section 501 of this act
> prohibits
> discrimination on the basis of disability in Federal employment and
> requires
> Federal agencies to establish affirmative action plans for the hiring,
> placement, and advancement of people with disabilities in Federal
> employment. Additional information and definitions related to Section
> 501
> can be found at theEEOC website."
>
> "Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act - Section 504 prohibits
> discrimination based on disability in federally funded and federally
> conducted programs or activities in the United States, including
> employment
> programs.Additional information and definitions related to Section 504
> can
> be found at the Department of Labor website."
>
> "Section 505 of the Rehabilitation Act - Section 505 establishes the
> enforcement procedures for title V of the Rehabilitation Act. Section
> 505
> (a) (1) provides that the procedures and rights set forth in Section
> 717 of
> the Civil Rights Act of 1964 shall be available with respect to any
> complaint under Section 501. Section 505 (a)(2) provides that the
> remedies,
> rights and procedures set forth in title VI of the Civil Rights Act of
> 1964
> shall be available to any person alleging a violation of Section 504.
> Section 508 is also enforced through the procedures established in
> Section
> 505 (a)(2)."
>
> "The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access
> Board) issued final guidelines for accessibility, usability and
> compatibility of telecommunications equipment and customer premises
> equipment covered by Section 255 of the Telecommunication Act of 1996."
>
> "Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Congress significantly strengthened
> section 508 in the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Its primary
> purpose is
> to provide access to and use of Federal executive agencies' electronic
> and
> information technology (EIT) by individuals with disabilities. "
>
>
> Source: http://www.section508.gov/
>
> 36 CFR Part 1194
> Subpart B - Technical Standards
>
> 1194.21 Software applications and operating systems.
> 1194.22 Web-based intranet and internet information and
> applications.
> 1194.23 Telecommunications products.
> 1194.24 Video and multimedia products.
> 1194.25 Self contained, closed products.
> 1194.26 Desktop and portable computers.
>
> Source: http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/standards.htm
>
> = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
>
> FAR
>
> 7.103 Agency-head responsibilities.
>
> The agency head or a designee shall prescribe procedures for-
>
> (o) Ensuring that acquisition planners specify needs and develop plans,
> drawings, work statements, specifications, or other product
> descriptions
> that address Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility
> Standards
> (see 36 CFR Part 1194) in proposed acquisitions (see 11.002(e)) and
> that
> these standards are included in requirements planning, as appropriate
> (see
> Subpart 39.2).
>
>
>
> 10.001 Policy.
> (2) Conduct market research appropriate to the circumstances-
> (vii) Assess the availability of electronic and information technology
> that
> meets all or part of the applicable accessibility standards issued by
> the
> Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board at 36 CFR
> Part
> 1194 (see Subpart 39.2).
>
>
>
> 11.002 Policy.
> (e) Some or all of the performance levels or performance specifications
> in a
> solicitation may be identified as targets rather than as fixed or
> minimum
> requirements.
>
> (f) In accordance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
> (29
> U.S.C. 794d), requiring activities must prepare requirements documents
> for
> electronic and information technology that comply with the applicable
> accessibility standards issued by the Architectural and Transportation
> Barriers Compliance Board at 36 CFR Part 1194 (see Subpart 39.2)
>
>
> Subpart 12.2-Special Requirements for the Acquisition of Commercial
> Items
>
> 12.202 Market research and description of agency need.
>
> (d) Requirements documents for electronic and information technology
> must
> comply with the applicable accessibility standards issued by the
> Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board at 36 CFR
> Part
> 1194 (see Subpart 39.2).
>
>
>
> 39.201 Scope of subpart.
>
> (a) This subpart implements Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of
> 1973
> (29 U.S.C. 794d), and the Architectural and Transportation Barriers
> Compliance Board Electronic and Information Technology (EIT)
> Accessibility
> Standards (36 CFR Part 1194).
>
> (b) Further information on Section 508 is available via the Internet at
> http://www.section508.gov.
>
> (c) When acquiring EIT, agencies must ensure that-
>
> (1) Federal employees with disabilities have access to and use of
> information and data that is comparable to the access and use by
> Federal
> employees who are not individuals with disabilities; and
>
> (2) Members of the public with disabilities seeking information or
> services
> from an agency have access to and use of information and data that is
> comparable to the access to and use of information and data by members
> of
> the public who are not individuals with disabilities.
> 39.202 Definition.
>
> Undue burden, as used in this subpart, means a significant difficulty
> or
> expense.
> 39.203 Applicability.
>
> (a) Unless an exception at 39.204 applies, acquisitions of EIT supplies
> and
> services must meet the applicable accessibility standards at 36 CFR
> Part
> 1194.
>
> (b)(1) Exception determinations are required prior to contract award,
> except
> for indefinite-quantity contracts (see paragraph (b)(2) of this
> section).
>
> (2) Exception determinations are not required prior to award of
> indefinite-quantity contracts, except for requirements that are to be
> satisfied by initial award. Contracting offices that award
> indefinite-quantity contracts must indicate to requiring and ordering
> activities which supplies and services the contractor indicates as
> compliant, and show where full details of compliance can be found
> (e.g.,
> vendor's or other exact website location).
>
> (3) Requiring and ordering activities must ensure supplies or services
> meet
> the applicable accessibility standards at 36 CFR Part 1194, unless an
> exception applies, at the time of issuance of task or delivery orders.
> Accordingly, indefinite-quantity contracts may include noncompliant
> items;
> however, any task or delivery order issued for noncompliant items must
> meet
> an applicable exception.
>
> (c)(1) When acquiring commercial items, an agency must comply with
> those
> accessibility standards that can be met with supplies or services that
> are
> available in the commercial marketplace in time to meet the agency's
> delivery requirements.
>
> (2) The requiring official must document in writing the
> nonavailability,
> including a description of market research performed and which
> standards
> cannot be met, and provide documentation to the contracting officer for
> inclusion in the contract file.
>
> 39.204 Exceptions.
>
> The requirements in 39.203 do not apply to EIT that-
>
> (a) Is purchased in accordance with Subpart 13.2 (micro-purchases)
> prior to
> April 1, 2005. However, for micro-purchases, contracting officers and
> other
> individuals designated in accordance with 1.603-3 are strongly
> encouraged to
> comply with the applicable accessibility standards to the maximum
> extent
> practicable;
>
> (b) Is for a national security system;
>
> (c) Is acquired by a contractor incidental to a contract;
>
> (d) Is located in spaces frequented only by service personnel for
> maintenance, repair or occasional monitoring of equipment; or
>
> (e) Would impose an undue burden on the agency.
>
> (1) Basis. In determining whether compliance with all or part of the
> applicable accessibility standards in 36 CFR Part 1194 would be an
> undue
> burden, an agency must consider-
>
> (i) The difficulty or expense of compliance; and
>
> (ii) Agency resources available to its program or component for which
> the
> supply or service is being acquired.
>
> (2) Documentation.
>
> (i) The requiring official must document in writing the basis for an
> undue
> burden decision and provide the documentation to the contracting
> officer for
> inclusion in the contract file.
>
> (ii) When acquiring commercial items, an undue burden determination is
> not
> required to address individual standards that cannot be met with
> supplies or
> service available in the commercial marketplace in time to meet the
> agency
> delivery requirements (see 39.203(c)(2) regarding documentation of
> nonavailability).
>
>
> Source: http://acquisition.gov/far/
>
> = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
>
> VPAT
>
> The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) is committed to
> helping
> the Federal Government implement Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
> In
> 2001, ITI partnered with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)
> to
> create a simple, Internet-based tool to assist Federal contracting and
> procurement officials in fulfilling the new market research
> requirements
> contained in the Section 508 implementing regulations. The result: the
> Voluntary Product Accessibility TemplateTM, or VPATTM.
>
> Source:
> http://www.itic.org/archives/articles/20040506/faq_voluntary_product_ac
> cessibility_template_vpat.php
>
> = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
>
>
> On Mon, May 12, 2008 at 5:27 PM, Darian Glover wrote:
>
> >
> > The U.S. Federal Government mandated that all technology, software
> and
> > hardware, be accessible with Section 508. During procurement a
> Voluntary
> > Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is required from the vendor.
> Yes,
> > it's labeled voluntary but is required. Adherence to this
> requirement
> > varies within the government, but is increasing.
> >
> > Most vendors who deal with the government comply by producing VPATs
> for
> > their products. This does not mean the products are 100% accessible.
> The
> > job of the VPAT is to identify how accessible the product is. Most
> people
> > acknowledge we are a ways off from having everything comply with
> Section 508
> > or be accessible. (Just because something complies with the letter
> of
> > Section 508 does not mean it is accessible in spirit or practice.)
> >
> > Example VPATs:
> > http://www.adobe.com/resources/accessibility/tools/vpat/
> > http://www.microsoft.com/industry/government/products/section508.mspx
> >
> > Information on the VPAT for vendors:
> >
> >
> http://www.itic.org/archives/articles/20040506/faq_voluntary_product_ac
> cessibility_template_vpat.php
> >
> >
> > Darian.
> >
> >
> >
>