[Athen] essential criteria across all products

Chagnon | PubCom chagnon at pubcom.com
Thu Apr 20 13:09:23 PDT 2017

Just a note about language when referring to government legislation.

I notice that all of us often call ICT accessibility “508” or “508 compliance.”

That’s an ok shortcut for us in the industry, but if you’re writing policy manuals or boilerplate language for RFP/RFQs and contracts, then the shortcuts won’t protect your organization in court or get you the accessible products you want.

I write contract language for US federal government agencies, as well as teach a course on contracting for accessibility. And I’m also a federal contractor who receives many RFP/RFQs and contracts.

Based on my experience, here are some guidelines I recommend to my clients:

1. Use the correct legal name or term.

2. Incorporate the standards by reference.

3. Incorporate your organization’s specific policies or guidelines by reference.

4. Define the deliverables.

1. Never use “508” alone. It doesn’t mean anything and has no legal standing. Refer to the correct full name of the legislation at the first reference, and afterwards shorten it to something like “Sec. 508” or “Sec. 508 compliance” or “Sec. 508-based standards.”


Sec. 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Sec. 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended on January 18, 2017

Sec. 255 of the Communications Act of 1934

2. Incorporate the legislation and/or standards into your document “by reference.” The legal term to use in your paperwork should be “incorporate by reference.” Sec. 508 itself incorporates WCAG, PDF/UA and other standards into Sec. 508.

Web reference sites should be official government, W3c, ISO, or other non-partisan organization websites, and should reference the actual rule/legislation, not techniques or someone else’s interpretation of the standards. Your contractors will find and use those “how to meet WCAG” websites on their own.


The US federal government’s Sec. 508 standards are incorporated by reference into this contract. They include:

* Sec. 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended on January 18, 2017, <https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/communications-and-it/about-the-ict-refresh/final-rule> https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/communications-and-it/about-the-ict-refresh/final-rule

* WCAG 2.0 as published by the World Wide Web Consortium, <https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/> https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/, and as ISO Standard ISO/IEC 40500:2012, <https://www.iso.org/standard/58625.html> https://www.iso.org/standard/58625.html

* PDF/UA-1 as published by the PDF Association <https://www.pdfa.org/working-group/pdfua-competence-center/> https://www.pdfa.org/working-group/pdfua-competence-center/, and as ISO Standard 14289-1:2012, <https://www.iso.org/standard/54564.html> https://www.iso.org/standard/54564.html. Copies can be purchased from AAIM.org at <http://www.aiim.org/Resources/Standards/AIIM_ISO_14289-1> http://www.aiim.org/Resources/Standards/AIIM_ISO_14289-1

3. Incorporate your policies into the contract, especially if you have particular requirements that aren’t addressed in any of the above standards, or you have a specific requirement that’s beyond what is currently covered in the standards. And if you have developed your own accessibility checklist, this is the place to reference it.


In addition to the Sec. 508 standards, ABC Organization requires these additional requirements to meet its accessibility needs:

* The ABC Organization Accessibility Policy and Guidelines as published on January 1, 2017, <http://www.ABC.org/policies> www.ABC.org/policies (Note: always put a reference date in case you change your policies while a contract is in progress.)
* All document deliverables (MS Word, Acrobat PDF, PowerPoint, and other document file formats) must pass ABC Organization’s accessible document checklist, <http://www.ABC.org/checklist> www.ABC.org/checklist. A completed copy of the checklist must be submitted with each document.

4. Require the deliverables you need. Most contractors deliver only the final, accessible (and often times locked) PDF of documents, not the source Word, PowerPoint, or InDesign files. The industry generally tries to hold the source files as ransom so that you come back to them for future work. Protect your organization!


Electronic document deliverables will include not only the final accessible Sec. 508-compliant PDF, but also the original source file(s) from which the PDF was exported, including MS Word, MS PowerPoint, MS Excel, and Adobe InDesign.

All deliverable files will not be password protected or encrypted to prevent ABC Organization from accessing or editing them.

--Bevi Chagnon

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Bevi Chagnon | <http://www.pubcom.com/> www.PubCom.com

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