Web Accessibility for US Government Contractors: Compliance Requirements

Web Accessibility for USA Government Contractors: Compliance Requirements

For businesses contracting with the United States government, compliance with web accessibility standards is not just a best practice; it’s a legal requirement. Ensuring that digital content and platforms are accessible to all individuals, including those with disabilities, is a fundamental obligation. In this article, we will explore the specific compliance requirements that US government contractors must meet in order to provide inclusive and accessible digital experiences.

The Legal Foundation: Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

At the heart of web accessibility requirements for US government contractors lies Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 508 was amended in 1998 to encompass information technology, including websites, software, and electronic documents. It mandates that federal agencies and contractors that receive federal funds must ensure that their electronic and information technology is accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2

Section 508 mandates adherence to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2, which were developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). WCAG 2.2 outlines four key principles – Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust (POUR) – and is organized into three levels of conformance: A, AA, and AAA.

  • Level A (Basic Compliance): Addresses the most fundamental accessibility features and is the minimum level of compliance.
  • Level AA (Intermediate Compliance): Provides a higher level of accessibility, covering a broader range of users. This is the standard for most websites.
  • Level AAA (Advanced Compliance): Represents the highest level of accessibility, offering an even greater degree of support for users with disabilities.
Web Accessibility for US Government Contractors: Compliance Requirements

Key Compliance Requirements for US Government Contractors

  1. Alt Text for Images:
    • All non-text content, such as images, charts, and graphs, must have descriptive alt text. This ensures that screen reader users can understand the content.
  2. Keyboard Accessibility:
    • All functionality on a website must be operable using a keyboard alone. This includes navigation, form input, and interactive elements.
  3. Video and Multimedia Accessibility:
    • Videos must have captions, and other multimedia content must be accompanied by transcripts or alternative formats.
  4. Document Accessibility:
    • PDFs and other electronic documents must be accessible, with proper structure, headings, alt text, and other necessary features.
  5. Forms and Interactive Elements:
    • Forms must be designed for accessibility, including labels, instructions, and proper focus management.
  6. Color Contrast:
    • Text and images of text must have sufficient contrast against their background to be readable.
  7. Accessible Navigation:
    • Navigation menus and links must be clear, organized, and easy to navigate using a keyboard.
  8. Consistent Page Structure:
    • Pages should have a clear, consistent structure with meaningful headings and labels.

Web Accessibility Benefits of Compliance for Government Contractors

  1. Legal Compliance:
    • Ensures adherence to Section 508 and other federal regulations, avoiding potential legal consequences.
  2. Eligibility for Contracts:
    • Non-compliance may result in disqualification from government contracts, limiting business opportunities.
  3. Inclusive Engagement:
    • Provides equal access to government resources and information for all citizens.
  4. Positive Public Image:
    • Demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity, which can enhance a contractor’s reputation.

Implementation and Ongoing Compliance

  1. Conduct an Accessibility Audit:
    • Evaluate your website for accessibility barriers and prioritize areas for improvement.
  2. Implement WCAG Guidelines:
    • Familiarize yourself with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and ensure your website adheres to the recommended standards.
  3. Training and Education:
    • Provide training to relevant team members on accessibility best practices and compliance requirements.
  4. Regular Audits and Maintenance:
    • Continually monitor and test your website to ensure ongoing compliance.

In conclusion, web accessibility is not just a compliance requirement for US government contractors; it’s a crucial step towards creating an inclusive and equitable digital environment. By adhering to Section 508 and implementing WCAG guidelines, contractors not only meet legal obligations but also contribute to a more inclusive society. Embracing accessibility is not just a regulatory requirement; it’s a commitment to providing equal access and opportunities for all individuals.

We Offer Web & Mobile Accessibility Testing

We at ‘Accessible Zone‘ provide web, mobile and software accessibility testing services. We perform testing manually using screen reader such as JAWS, NVDA & Voiceovers. We also provide VPAT and ACR reports. If you want to use our services do contact us as at contact@accessiblezone.com or you can also schedule a free call with us from here.

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