I agreeto Idea Why not a "GSA schedule" for accessible products?
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Why not a "GSA schedule" for accessible products?

A lot of us focus on documents and web sites, but we should also talk about software and other products.

Why can't there be a list of software tools or hardware devices? Nothing gets on the list unless it actually meets the full 508.

There can be all the boundary setting and disclaimers about what an agency does with the product, but it seems like an incredible waste of effort for every agency to have to check basic products.

Wouldn't vendors compete to get on this list by improving their products? Sort of a GSA schedule for products

Submitted by Whitney Q. 2 years ago

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(latest 20 votes)

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  1. The idea was posted
    2 years ago

Comments (10)

  1. Good idea -- one version of it is to require full 508 compliance if you want your product to be on any of the many accelerated purchasing programs. Vendors and buyers both like these pre-approval programs because they make the process faster and easier; why not use that motivation as a 508 enforcement tool?

    2 years ago
    1 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  2. I could not agree more with this idea! As a vendor, I would love to be able to be listed on a Section 508 directory within the GSA schedule.

    2 years ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  3. This is not how GSA schedules work. In addition, Section 508 allows for the purchase of non-compliant products with a qualified exception. It therefore also allows schedule contracts to list non-compliant products. You are also then assuming that GSA will have the resources to evaluate ALL of the products on a schedule. So, GSA's solution has been the BuyAccessible Wizard.

    2 years ago
    1 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  4. Do companies have to sign legally-binding documents certifying whether their products are or are not compliant? If not, they should. Self-certification may not be perfect, but at least that way some consequences (such as being booted off the schedule) could be enforced at that level, not just in the individual contracts.

    2 years ago
    0 Agreed
    2 Disagreed
  5. Adding to 508 Govt Professional's comments, according to the FAR it is the acquiring agency's responsibility to identify its accessibility requirements and to conduct accessibility market research. Agencies that are schedule holders should ask for accessibility information from vendors, but vendors are not required to respond or to comply with 508. They can be asked to conform to agency accessibility requirements, and the agency can eliminate those that don't provide accessibility information, but vendor participation in 508 is voluntary. Further, vendors can't self certify and there is no third party certification. Again, it is the agency's responsibility to confirm vendor accessibility claims and evaluate accessibility in light of all of its requirements. Agency responsibility for Section 508 compliance cannot be delegated to schedule holders. Schedule holders on the other hand could do a much better job of asking for accessibility information in a standard format such as the Government Product/Service Accessibility Template.

    2 years ago
    3 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  6. Whitney Q. Idea Submitter

    I understand how things are now. I also understand the duplication of effort involved when each and every agency has to make their own determination about common ICT.

    I wasn't necessarily suggesting that it be part of the current GSA schedule of vendors, but that some sort of government-wide resource might be helpful to vendors and agencies alike.

    2 years ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
    1. What agency will sponsor it, where will the money come from, will it scale, etc? And, be careful if you think a cross agency charge system will work. To be successful, all agencies would need to be required to use/pay for it, but they will not be able to say "but the centralized evaluation authority said it was complaint." Such a resource will not relieve agencies from legal actions. Here is a better idea: establish an authority that prescribes testing methods and establishes minimum compliance levels and require vendors to affirm their use in their own testing. The strategic plan can establish the authority, ask agencies to disclose their participation (do they follow the established criteria internally and require vendors to affirm), and while vendors can still lie, we at least can catch them at it because the interpretability issues are minimized.

      2 years ago
      1 Agreed
      0 Disagreed
  7. Yes, yes, yes....competition of available products (whether software, hardware, etc) would be an invaluable resource.

    2 years ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  8. Whitney Q. Idea Submitter

    508 Gov't Professional: If you think you have a better idea, why not post it as a separate concept. But, I wonder whether 508 isn't the "minimum compliance level" It is, after all the regulation.

    Let me try this again: It seems to me that the current system, in which each agency, no matter how big or how small, has to test even the most basic products seems completely unsustainable.

    There are lists of social media tools and online apps that are approved for use within the government. There are tools that are banned within large agencies.

    Why can't there be a way to test the accessibility of commonly used tools and make this information available across the government. Or within a large agency (HHS, for example).

    Individual programs might still have to evaluate specialized products, ICT they develop or procure on a custom basic. They might still have to weigh "best meets" considerations.

    But surely - SURELY - we can get to the point where widespread ICT is either deemed accessible or not.

    Surely, we can imagine a central clearinghouse of some kind where problems can be reported. And then communicated to the vendor for remediation.

    I know that this does not solve 100% of the problem, but all the duplication of effort (and differing interpretations) does not seem sustainable.

    2 years ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  9. I agree. BUT, if a bidder does VPAT, states yes to 1 item. and NO to all the rest. We select them anyway because the buyer LIKES the product. To heck with the disabled folks that must use it. The buyer likes the product, end of story. So, GSA sets the standard, OMB, or the buyer with the power of the purse? I get overidden everyday. VPAT had one check YES, so we buy it. We pray for no suit from a disabled person. It was explained to me like this, "the administrator assumes the risk, not you", move on.

    2 years ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed