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Part 8 - Information Resources Management

Chapter 20 - Section 508 Implementation


Title Section
Introduction 8-20-1
    Purpose 8-20-1A
    Background 8-20-1B
    Scope 8-20-1C
    Authorities 8-20-1D
    Policy 8-20-1E
    Comparable Access 8-20-1F
Responsibilities 8-20-2
    Director, IHS 8-20-2A
    Section 508 Official 8-20-2B
    Section 508 Coordinator 8-20-2C
    Section 508 Team 8-20-2D
    Section 508 Area Coordinator 8-20-2E
    Section 508 Subject Matter Experts 8-20-2F
    Division of Acquisition Policy 8-20-2G
    Authorizing Official 8-20-2H
    Requesting Official 8-20-2I
Training 8-20-3
    Section 508 Training Program 8-20-3A
    Section 508 Training Sections 8-20-3B
Section 508 - Exceptions 8-20-4
    Mandatory Requirements 8-20-4A
    Section 508 Exceptions 8-20-4B
    General EIT Procurement Exceptions 8-20-4C
    Applicability 8-20-4D
    Undue Burden Exception Determination 8-20-4E
    Undue Burden Certification Statement 8-20-4F
    Undue Burden Exception is is Granted 8-20-4G
    Significant Difficulty or Expense 8-20-4H
    Commercial Non-Availability 8-20-4I
    Indefinite Quantity Contract 8-20-4J
    Reporting 8-20-4K


Exhibit Description
Manual Exhibit 8-20-A Glossary
Manual Exhibit 8-20-B Access Board Final Rule
Manual Exhibit 8-20-C Federal Register Vol. 66, Federal Acquisition Regulations; Electronic
   and Information Technology Accessibility and Small Entity Compliance Guide; Federal
   Acquisition Circular 97-27, FAR Case 1999-607; Final Rules Pages 20894 - 20897
Manual Exhibit 8-20-D Software Applications and Operating Systems Checklist
Manual Exhibit 8-20-E Telecommunications Products Checklist
Manual Exhibit 8-20-F Video and Multimedia Products Checklist
Manual Exhibit 8-20-G Self-Contained/Closed Product Standards
Manual Exhibit 8-20-H Desktop and Portable Computer Standards Checklist
Manual Exhibit 8-20-I Information, Documentation, and Support
Manual Exhibit 8-20-J Web-Based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications Checklist
Manual Exhibit 8-20-K Commercial Non-Availability Certification
Manual Exhibit 8-20-L Undue Burden
Manual Exhibit 8-20-M Determination and Certification Findings
Manual Exhibit 8-20-N Functional Performance Criteria Checklist


INTRODUCTION

  1. Purpose.  This chapter establishes Indian Health Service (IHS) policy and implements procedures to ensure compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 United States Code (U.S.C.) §794(d), as amended, by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, Public Law (P.L.) 105-220, August 7, 1998.

  2. Background.  In 1986, the Congress added Section 508 to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Section 508 established non-binding guidelines for Information Technology (IT) accessibility.  The President signed into law the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, on August 7, 1998, which included amendments to the Rehabilitation Act.  These amendments significantly expanded and strengthened the IT accessibility requirements in Section 508 and made them binding on Federal Agencies.

  3. The first regulation implementing Section 508, as amended, was issued by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board), an independent Federal Agency, whose primary mission is to promote accessibility for individuals with disabilities.  This regulation is referred to as the Access Board's "Electronic Information Technology (EIT) Accessibility Standards."  The Access Board's standards set forth a definition of EIT and the technical and functional performance criteria necessary for compliance with Section 508.  (See Manual Exhibit 8-20-N)

    The second rule issued to implement Section 508 amended the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to ensure that Agency acquisitions of EIT comply with the Access Board's standards.

    Violations of Section 508 can have significant ramifications.  If the IHS does not provide equal access to EIT, an individual with a disability can file an administrative complaint or file a civil lawsuit, because inaccessible technology interferes with an individual's ability to obtain and use information.

    Section 508 requires Federal Agencies that develop, procure, maintain, or use EIT to ensure individuals with disabilities:

    1. who are Federal employees have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access to and use of the information and data by Federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities; and

    2. who are members of the public seeking information or services from a Federal agency have access and use of the information and data by such members of the public who are not individuals with disabilities.

  4. Scope.  This chapter applies to all EIT developed, procured, maintained, or used by the IHS on or after June 25, 2001; and is to be implemented by all IHS employees.  Manual Exhibit 8-20-A is a glossary of terms which are either newly introduced, uncommon, or specialized in this chapter.

  5. Authorities.

    1. Section 508, Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. §794(d)), as amended by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-220), August 7, 1998

    2. Section 508 Standards, Access Boards Final Rule (36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1194, 1 through 5; 21 through 26, 31; and 41 (Manual Exhibit 8-20-B)

    3. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Policy for Section 508 Electronic and Information Technology, January 2005

    4. Section 5142, Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 (40 U.S.C. 11103(a))

    5. Federal Acquisition Regulations Subpart 39.2

    6. 36 CFR 1194.1 and 3(a)(b)(f)

    7. Section 508 Accessibility Standards (36 CFR Part 1194)

    8. Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards, Federal Register (FR), December 21, 2000

    9. Supplementary Information, FR Vol. 66, page 20894 (Manual Exhibit 8-20-C)

  6. Policy.  The IHS shall ensure that individuals with disabilities who are Federal employees have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access to and use of information and data by Federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities; and individuals with disabilities who are members of the public seeking information or services from a Federal department or agency have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access to and use of information and data by such members of the public who are not individuals with disabilities.

  7. Comparable Access.  Comparable access is not required if it would impose an undue burden on the IHS.  The IHS shall adhere to the EIT Accessibility Standards as published in the Federal Register, December 21, 2000.  All EIT developed, procured, or maintained by a contractor for the IHS must comply with the EIT Accessibility Standards and subsequent regulations.

8-20.2  RESPONSIBILITIES

  1. Director, IHS.  The Director, IHS is administratively responsible for:

    1. ensuring Agency compliance with Section 508, as amended;

    2. designating a senior-level manager as the Section 508 Official; and

    3. submitting reports and survey data related to EIT to appropriate government and other oversight organizations.

  2. Section 508 Official.  The Section 508 Official is located in the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and reports directly to the IHS Chief Information Officer.  The Section 508 Official is responsible for:

    1. managing the IHS Section 508 Program;

    2. facilitating the IHS Section 508 implementation and adherence to the Federal and the HHS Section 508 standards, regulations, policies, plans, and procedures;

    3. facilitating efficient communication of Section 508 issues within the HHS;

    4. reviewing exception requests, including commercial non-availability and undue burden exceptions for Section 508 compliance; and forwarding biannual exception reports to the HHS Section 508 Coordinator for processing;

    5. submitting reports and survey data related to EIT for inclusion in required departmental documents;

    6. assuring that an implementation plan for Section 508 is developed and approved by the Director, Office on Disability, HHS;

    7. reviewing the implementation plan annually and submitting it to the HHS Section 508 Coordinator for review and comment;

    8. maintaining a record of each approved or denied exception and Section 508 complaint; and

    9. ensuring that information about Section 508 activities is shared within the Agency and among interested internal partners.

  3. Section 508 Coordinator.  The IHS Section 508 Coordinator is responsible for:

    1. serving as the IHS representative on the HHS Section 508 Program Team;

    2. ensuring efficient communication of Section 508 issues within the IHS and to the HHS Office on Disability;

    3. developing, establishing, and leading the IHS Section 508 Accessibility Team and assigning team responsibilities;

    4. serving as the liaison between the IHS Section 508 Accessibility Team and the IHS Section 508 Official;

    5. providing advice, assistance, and status reports on the IHS Section 508 Program to the IHS Section 508 Official and other senior management personnel;

    6. coordinating IHS Section 508 training throughout the IHS;

    7. ensuring the preparation and submission of semi-annual exception reports to the IHS Section 508 Official;

    8. preparing and submitting reports and survey data related to EIT for inclusion in required IHS and departmental documents in accordance with procedures established by the IHS and the Office of the Secretary, HHS;

    9. developing and submitting an IHS Section 508 Implementation Plan to the IHS Section 508 Official for approval prior to submitting the plan to the Director, Office on Disability, HHS;

    10. coordinating the annual review of the IHS Section 508 implementation plan and submitting the plan to the HHS Section 508 Coordinator for review, comment, and approval prior to submission to the Director, Office on Disability, HHS;

    11. ensuring that IHS maintains a record of IHS approved and denied exceptions, and Section 508 complaints;

    12. sharing information about Section 508 activities within the IHS and among interested internal partners; and

    13. representing the IHS at Agency and intra-agency meetings, conference calls, training sessions, and conferences.

  4. Section 508 Team.  The IHS Section 508 Official is the leader of the Section 508 Team.  The Section 508 Team consists of the IHS Section 508 Official, IHS Section 508 Coordinator, Area Section 508 Coordinators, a member of the IHS Division of Acquisition Policy (DAP), Subject Matter Experts, and other IHS representatives as needed.  The IHS Section 508 Team is responsible for:

    1. actively participating in the development and implementation of Section 508 throughout the IHS;

    2. providing status reports to the IHS Section 508 Official and Coordinator, and participating in conference calls;

    3. reviewing and approving or denying all Section 508 exception requests and Certification Statements, including Commercial Non-Availability Exception Requests.  This excludes Undue Burden requests;

    4. assisting in the development and distribution of IHS Section 508 policy, procedures, and requirements;

    5. assisting in the education and training of IHS personnel;

    6. providing recommendations and expertise to the IHS Section 508 Official and the Section 508 Coordinator regarding Section 508 issues and solutions; and

    7. developing methods to ensure that requesting and authorizing officials are fully informed about Section 508 requirements and have the knowledge to determine whether their acquisition is subject to Section 508.

  5. Section 508 Area Coordinator.  Area Section 508 Coordinators may approve or deny exception requests, including commercial non-availability exception requests.  This excludes undue burden exception requests.  The Area Director will appoint a person, in writing, to represent their Area Office as the Section 508 Area Coordinator.  In addition to the responsibilities listed in the IHS Section 508 Team section, the Section 508 Area Coordinator will be responsible for:

    1. implementing, supporting, complying, and providing Section 508 guidance within their Area;

    2. providing Section 508 technical expertise to their Area;


    3. reviewing, approving, or denying all Section 508 exception requests and Certification Statements, including commercial non-availability exception requests.  This excludes undue burden exception requests;

    4. preparing a semi-annual exception report of all approved or denied exception requests submitted within their Area and forwarding the report to the IHS Section 508 Coordinator; and

    5. coordinating Section 508 activities within their respective organizations.

  6. Section 508 Subject Matter Experts.  The Section 508 Subject Matter Experts will be responsible for providing Section 508 recommendations and guidance to management and peers regarding their area of expertise.  The Director, OIT, will designate subject matter experts for:

    1. Software applications and operating systems.  A checklist is provided to ensure consistency and completeness.  (See Manual Exhibit 8-20-D.)

    2. Telecommunications products.  A checklist is provided to ensure consistency and completeness.  (See Manual Exhibit 8-20-E.)

    3. Video and multimedia products.  A checklist is provided to ensure consistency and completeness.  (See Manual Exhibit 8-20-F.)

    4. Self-contained/closed products.  A checklist is provided to ensure consistency and completeness.  (See Manual Exhibit 8-20-G.)

    5. Desktop and portable computers.  A checklist is provided to ensure consistency and completeness.  (See Manual Exhibit 8-20-H.)

    6. Information, documentation, and support.  A checklist is provided to ensure consistency and completeness.  (See Manual Exhibit 8-20-I.)

    7. Web-based intranet and internet information and applications.  A checklist is provided to ensure consistency and completeness.  (See Manual Exhibit 8-20-J.)

  7. Division of Acquisition Policy.  The Director, DAP, is responsible for:

    1. developing policies and procedures on EIT acquisitions in accordance with Part 5, Chapter 5, "Acquisition Management," Indian Health Manual;

    2. integrating policies and procedures of Section 508 into the existing acquisition management processes and documents;

    3. creating and conducting training for contracting officers and others involved in the purchasing process;

    4. reviewing and commenting on updates or revisions (or both) to the FAR language; and

    5. ensuring Section 508 market research, certification, and exception documentation is prepared and maintained within the contract file according to the IHS Section 508 Implementation Plan (when appropriate).

  8. Authorizing Official.  The Authorizing Official authorizes the request (he or she will be whoever authorizes the purchase).  The Authorizing Official is responsible for:

    1. processing all EIT purchase requests in accordance with this chapter;

    2. reviewing, certifying, and forwarding requests for additional approvals of new and previously approved EIT exceptions for commercial non-availability and undue burden in compliance with Section 508;

    3. reviewing and certifying all other EIT exceptions to Section 508 compliance as required and in accordance with this chapter; and

    4. approving or denying all EIT exceptions except commercial non-availability and undue burden exception requests.

  9. Requesting Official.  The Requesting Official is the individual who makes a purchase.  The Requesting Official is responsible for:

    1. preparing and processing all EIT purchase requests in accordance with this chapter;

    2. reviewing the Access Board standards and determining which Section 508 Accessibility Standards (36 CFR, Part 1194) apply to the specific EIT product or service being procured;

    3. performing market research, in accordance with FAR 10.001, to determine the commercial availability of products and services that meet the applicable technical provisions.  The requesting official must identify which technical provisions, if any, do not apply due to an exception, such as commercial non-availability (Manual Exhibit 8-20-K) or undue burden (Manual Exhibit 8-20-L);

    4. developing technical specifications and minimum requirements based on the results of market research and IHS needs.  This information must be submitted along with the purchase request, including commercial non-availability or undue burden documentation as appropriate, to the contracting officer for inclusion in the contract file;

    5. identifying and documenting applicable Section 508 Accessibility Standards that are satisfied or not satisfied and including a description of market research performed;

    6. determining and documenting commercial non-availability and undue burden EIT exceptions for compliance with Section 508, as applicable and in accordance with this chapter; and

    7. certifying and forwarding for approval, EIT exceptions for compliance in accordance with this chapter.

8-20.3  TRAINING

  1. Section 508 Training Requirements.

    1. All IHS employees must be properly trained regarding Section 508 requirements to ensure that employees have a general awareness and understanding of the Section 508 requirements.

    2. All IHS managers and other IHS employees performing in roles, or changing to jobs that require performance pertinent to the Section 508 provisions must complete Section 508 training as prescribed by this policy.

  2. Section 508 Training Sections.  Section 508 training consists of 3 sections:

    1. Phase I.  Phase I training is directed to all IHS staff to ensure a general understanding of Section 508 and consists of a comprehensive set of sessions planned by the Director, HHS Office on Disability, in cooperation with the IHS Section 508 Team.

    2. Phase II.  Phase II training is mandatory for managers and other 508-staff.  Employees who must attend Phase II training sessions include:  The Director, IHS, Deputy Directors, Area Directors, Headquarters Office Directors, and Division Directors; the Chief Information Officer and Executives having Division-wide responsibility for IT activities; Authorizing Officials (managers and supervisors having the authority to approve purchase requests, accept proposals, or otherwise make acquisition decisions for their organizations); Requesting Officials (managers and supervisors whose duties include initiating requisitions, writing or evaluating request for proposal/request for information, or any other role in determining or evaluating IT technical requirements or informing product choice); Program Managers, Project Managers, IT Development Leads and Contracting Officer's Technical Representatives (staff at any level responsible for directing IT projects, overseeing acceptance of EIT deliverables, or managing/supervising EIT development staff); Procurement (Acquisitions) Officials; Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Program and Office of Civil Rights (OCR) staff; Section 508 Team members (including Officials and Coordinators; and any persons who will be serving as Section 508 trainers.

    3. Phase III.  Phase III training is mandatory for managers and other Section 508-centric staff.  Employees who must attend Phase III training sessions include:  The Director, IHS, Deputy Directors, Area Directors, Headquarters Office Directors, and Division Directors; the Chief Information Officer and Executives having Division-wide responsibility for IT activities; Authorizing Officials (Managers and Supervisors having the authority to approve purchase requests, accept proposals, or otherwise make acquisition decisions for their organizations); Requesting Officials (Managers and Supervisors whose duties include initiating acquisitions requisitions, writing or evaluating request for proposal/request for information, or any other role in determining or evaluating IT technical requirements or informing product choice); Program Managers, Project Managers, IT Development Leads and Contracting Officers Technical Representative (COTR) (Staff at any level responsible for directing IT projects, overseeing acceptance of EIT deliverables, or managing/supervising EIT development staff); Procurement (Acquisitions) Officials; EEO Program and Office of Civil Rights (OCR) staff; Section 508 Program Team members (including Officials and Coordinators); and any persons who will be serving as Section 508 trainers.

SECTION 508 - EXCEPTIONS

All IHS requests for a Section 508 exception must be made and processed in accordance with this chapter. An undue burden exception determination and certification must be completed when compliance with any part of the Section 508 standards would impose an undue burden.  This would typically be determined either before the completion of the Purchase Request or during the offer/proposal evaluation.

  1. Mandatory Requirements.  The Access Board's technical provisions are mandatory requirements that must be met (directly or through equivalent facilitation) unless a formal request for an exemption from an established Section 508 standard is granted as follows:

    1. The Authorizing Official may approve or deny EIT exception requests except Commercial Non-Availability and undue burden exception requests.

    2. The Area Section 508 Coordinators may approve or deny exception requests, including Commercial Non-Availability exception requests.  This excludes undue burden exception requests.

    3. The IHS Section 508 Official and the Director, IHS, must both approve or deny all requests for undue burden exceptions.

  2. Section 508 - Exceptions.  All requests for a Section 508 exception must be made and processed in accordance with this chapter.  All undue burden exception determination and certification must be completed when compliance with any part of the Section 508 standards would impose an undue burden.  This would typically be determined either before the completion of the purchase request or during the offer/proposal evaluation.

  3. General EIT Procurement Exceptions.  All exceptions listed in this section must include the following certification statement:

  4. "I have determined and hereby certify that this procurement required by my organization is not subject to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, in accordance with 36 CFR Part 1194.3 (State the specific procurement exception as listed below that applies to your purchase request) and/or FAR 39.204 (State the specific procurement exception as listed below that applies to your purchase request.)"

    This certification must be signed by the requesting official and the requesting component's Authorized Official.  The certification must contain both individuals' signatures, printed names, dates, and phone numbers.

    No other certification signature is required for exceptions in this section.  The determination and certification forms must be attached to the Purchase Request and be processed in accordance to this chapter.

  5. Applicability.  Section 508 does not apply to EIT:

    1. For national security systems; does not include systems used for routine administrative and business applications (including payroll, finance, logistics, and personnel management applications).

    2. Products a contractor develops, procures, maintains, or uses that are incidental to a contract.

    3. "Back office" equipment located in spaces frequented only by service personnel for maintenance, repair or occasional monitoring of equipment, such as telecommunications equipment switches, servers, and other similar equipment that is used for equipment maintenance and administration.

  6. Undue Burden Exception Determination.  Undue burden exceptions shall be based upon whether compliance efforts result in "significant difficulty or expense."  In determining whether a particular action is an undue burden under Section 508, the IHS must consider the difficulty or expense of compliance, and all Agency resources available to its program or component for which the product or service is being developed, procured, maintained, or used.  Each undue burden exception will be determined on a case-by-case basis and will require annual renewal in accordance with the IHS Implementation Plan.  The undue burden exception request must contain a plan for providing individuals with disabilities with the information and data involved by an alternative means of access.

  7. An undue burden exception determination and certification (Manual Exhibit 8-20-M) must be completed when compliance with any part of the Section 508 standards would impose an undue burden.  This would typically be determined either before the completion of the Purchase Request, or during the offer or proposal evaluation.  For each undue burden, the requesting official must document in writing the basis for an undue burden decision.

    At a minimum, the significant difficulty or expense must be substantiated with the following documentation:

    1. The products or services required to meet the Agency's needs and the estimated cost of acquiring the products or services including all options.

    2. Undue burden justification, i.e., the significant difficulty or expense the government would incur in order to comply with a particular standard(s).  If the expense is deemed prohibitive, explain the costs and how they were estimated.

    3. Market research conducted and subsequent findings to locate the product or service that meet the applicable provisions.

    4. Plan for providing information to persons with disabilities regardless of current noncompliant products or services.

  8. Undue Burden Certification Statement.  The certification statement will contain the following language:

  9. "I have determined and hereby certify that development, procurement, maintenance," or "use of the applicable EIT product(s) or services required by my organization that are subject to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, present an undue burden."

    1. This certification must be signed by the requesting official and the requesting component's authorized official.

    2. The certification must contain individual's signatures, printed names, dates, and phone numbers.

    3. The determination and certification documentation must be attached to the Purchase Request.

  10. Undue Burden Exception is Granted.  If an undue burden exception is granted:

    1. An undue burden exception does not provide a safe harbor from providing information and data to individuals with disabilities.  The IHS must provide an alternate method of access the individuals can use.

    2. The IHS must make a good faith effort to meet Section 508 requirements if an employee, applicant, or member of the public files a Section 508 complaint.

    3. If a complaint is filed, the justification provided by the IHS to support its request for an undue burden exception could be reexamined either by the EEO or the OCR during the complaint investigation.

    4. If a determination is made that the IHS failed to consider the proper factors in determining that a particular action would result in an undue burden, then the IHS would be required to take appropriate steps to comply with Section 508.

  11. Significant Difficulty or Expense.  In order to meet accessibility requirements, consideration can be given to the extent that compliance would require significant difficulty or expense.  All IHS resources available to a program or component are to be considered in determining whether an action is an "undue burden."  Such determination will be performed on a case-by-case basis.  The IHS is required by statute to document the basis for an undue burden exception and the exception must be formally approved by the HHS.  The exception documentation must contain a plan for providing individuals with disabilities with the information and data involved by an alternative means of access.  Each approved undue burden exception will require annual review by the IHS and the HHS.

  12. Commercial Non-Availability.  When acquiring commercial items, the IHS 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 IHS delivery requirements.  When EIT is not available, the market research performed and individual Section 508 standards that the product or service cannot meet must be documented by the requesting official and included in the contract file.

  13. If products are commercially available that meets some but not all of the standards, the IHS must procure the product that best meets the standards.  The IHS will use the standards established in 36 CFR Part 1194 and FAR 10.001(a)(3)(vii) to conduct its market research.  For an acquisition to qualify for this exception, use the FAR Subpart 2.101 definition for the term "commercial item."

  14. Indefinite Quantity Contracts.  Exception determinations are not required prior to an award of indefinite quantity contract.  Any order for a noncompliant item under an indefinite quantity contract must meet an applicable exception and the exception must be approved as described herein. See FAR 39.2036(b).

  15. Reporting.  All IHS approved or denied undue burden exceptions are to be reported to the HHS Section 508 Coordinator on a semi-annual basis.



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