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Accessibility’s Role in the Evolution of Government CX

Accessibility’s Role in the Evolution of Government CX

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As more and more government services move online to meet citizen demand, a focus on digital accessibility is becoming even more critical. Commonly referred to as “508 compliance,” named after section 508 in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, government websites must offer equal access to electronic information and data for individuals with disabilities. This can include closed captioning on videos, use of background colors with significant brightness and contrast, ability to navigate with the keyboard, alternative text for images, and no time limits on activities, among others.  

However, a recent General Services Administration (GSA) report found that many agencies fail to meet decades-old accessibility standards. The investigation into accessibility found that among the most viewed intranet and internet pages, electronic documents, and videos, less than 30% were fully in line with Section 508 standards. Similarly, a report from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) found that almost half of the most popular federal government websites are not fully accessible.

OMB has ordered all agencies to resolve accessibility issues to deliver an equitable digital experience. Doing so means:

  • Establishing and staffing programs focused on accessibility:  According to the GSA report, agencies with more mature Section 508 programs and more staff did have more accessible tech. The report also uncovered that 38 reporting components said that they have no Section 508 staffers at all. 
  • Holding tech vendors accountable: GSA recommended that Congress should implement oversight on major tech vendors to ensure improvement in the accessibility of high-use software products, like office productivity applications. Agencies should also build accessibility requirements into procurement and contracting documents and institute policies for non-compliance.
  • Utilizing modernization funding: OMB and the White House point to The Technology Modernization Fund as a resource for establishing 508 programs and acquiring accessible technology. 

For more direction on accessibility standards and tactics, check out these resources from GovWhitePapers and GovEvents.

  • Modernizing Government Technology Reform Act (white paper) – The Modernizing Government Technology Reform Act would amend the Technology Modernization Fund as authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act. It would authorize the appropriation of $50 million annually through 2030 for the fund. It also would create new reporting requirements for federal agencies regarding their information technology systems.
  • Transforming Government Experiences with Modern Identity (white paper) – People interact with the government in myriad ways. Unfortunately, each interaction typically requires a different credential, which forces users to create and manage accounts with multiple agencies. The public now expects seamless and secure digital experiences wherever they interact online. To meet these expectations and promote trust in government, modern identity solutions should be a part of every agency’s modernization strategy.
  • Elevating Government CX to Meet the Needs of Today’s Digital Citizens (white paper) – Government agencies are bound by unusually strict protocols and high-security standards—constraints that add overhead and hinder agility. The need for government teams to work independently has led to unwanted tool sprawl and data siloing, which complicates the cooperative efforts needed to bring about transformation.
  • Ability Summit (March 7, 2024; virtual) – Explore new accessible technology and learn from leaders with a deep understanding of disabilities in the workplace. This is a chance to find out how to embed accessibility into an organization and improve opportunities for people across the disability spectrum.
  • Digital Front Door for Government (March 14, 2024; webcast) – Explore the Digital Front Door for States, Counties, and Cities and how it is revolutionizing access to government services. Eliminate confusion for constituents by giving them a single, intuitive access point for all government services, and helping to guide them through resources to support specific needs.
  • Government Customer Experience & Engagement Summit (June 6, 2024; Washington, DC) – Join top thought leaders and experts from government and industry to explore the state of government CX today — and look ahead to the future. The technology track will engage you in conversation surrounding the digital transformation of CX, its challenges and opportunities, while also exploring the integration of new technologies.

Additional guidance on ensuring digital government accessibility can be found on GovWhitePapers and GovEvents.



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