GSA to sponsor forums on IT access for disabled

klunney@govexec.com

Federal procurement officers will soon have the opportunity to learn how to make information technology accessible to people with disabilities, thanks to a series of forums sponsored by the General Services Administration.

GSA will host forums in nine cities across the country during the next six months for federal and state procurement officers. The sessions are designed to educate managers on the most effective ways to make electronic and information technology accessible to the disabled and help federal agencies comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was created to ensure that federal employees with disabilities have the same access to information and computers enjoyed by federal employees without disabilities, assuming doing so would not cause an undue burden on an agency.

The agency is sponsoring the forums on behalf of the Federal Information Technology (IT) Accessibility Initiative, an interagency partnership working to make federal technology accessible to disabled individuals.

The federal Access Board drafted the standards for the Section 508 amendments of the Rehabilitation Act. The Board hopes to issue final rules for Section 508 compliance by the fall, or at the very latest, the end of this year.

The forums kick-off Aug. 29 in Austin, Texas and will be held through January 2001 in nine cities across the country including Seattle, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

Federal and state procurement officials, IT professionals, and project managers for IT acquisition programs are encouraged to attend. Go to www.section508.gov to register for the forums and to find out more information on Section 508.

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