I agreeto Idea Start compliance at the Procurement Stage
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Start compliance at the Procurement Stage

HHS mandates tough compliance requirements in every contract that will result in products that will end up on the web (and we assume that all written documents will be posted). We augment these by posting both our standards and the applications/tools we use to test against those standards. This leaves contractors no wiggle room; deliverables must be fully compliant.

Submitted by richard.stapleton 2 years ago

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Comments (4)

  1. This is a good idea. Hopefully it would weed out contractors who are clueless and send a strong message, too.

    2 years ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  2. I agree that accessibility should be stipulated in contracts, but I know for fact that even when accessibility is included in contracts, at least in non-public government sites, developers don't build for accessibility. I've even had a government manager explicitly tell me that the audience of users affected by accessibility issues was so small that I should stop worrying about it. It doesn't help that most developers have little to no understanding of accessibility issues or how to address them. In these closed environments, there's no risk of a public citizen filing a lawsuit and there's no concern about an external compliance person checking sites as they won't have access. So there's just no real concern on the part of many people (government and contractor staff alike).

    2 years ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  3. The HHS standards are indeed available and well known among the web development community and honestly, we spend a lot of time and effort making things compliant. Nothing gets posted publicly anymore without someone checking it. Public web pages are scanned and results posted on a scorecard. We've really cleaned up the public side, but we still have a way to go on the non-public side.

    The federal agency must, by law, specify which standards are applicable for a product, but the people writing the RFP's and contracts don't understand Section 508 and this ultimately translates into poor accessibility language in contracts. Yes, 508 language is in there, but you still often have useless 508 "umbrella" clauses or senseless requirements for VPAT's for products/services that aren't even IET. It's not always the contractors who are clueless.

    2 years ago
    2 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  4. HHS has set the standard for 508 implementation.

    However your bold statement that HHS "mandates tough compliance requirements" is like a Bobbie on the streets of London yelling "Stop! Or I'll yell STOP again!" to the thief. Manadates without monitoring, and enforcement are discouraging. It leave more questions than answers, which defaults to doing nothing since getting caught improbable.

    HHS's contractors are granted tremendous wiggle room, as no one is monitoring for compliance. Per the HHS Acquisistion Regulations the CO/COR are to collect accessibility affirmations (PAT's) from vendors by deliverable, and at the conclusion of the contract and/or annually for multi year contracts. And HHS is suppose to report out on its overall accessibility for vendors; improving the overall quality of products procured. But its not happening, and to my knowledge its never been published in such a way that Selection Panels can use those reports to grade/score vendor proposals based upon past performance.

    Imagine how much things would improve if the GSA published vendor score cards on accessibility? Incumants would be scrambling.

    2 years ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed