screen with the sign Digitaly Accessible USA? and flags of USA in the background.

U.S. Digital Accessibility: New Memo & 2024 Deadlines!

A new memorandum, M-24-08, released by the White House on digital accessibility is making waves in the United States, promising a better online experience for all. Thanks to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), things are getting a major upgrade for everyone, especially the 61 million Americans with disabilities. Let’s unpack the significance this memo brings to the table.

The driving force behind the new memorandum? A stark reality – almost half of the most popular federal government websites don’t provide full accessibility. Turns out, document accessibility is a major concern for most federal agencies. That’s why this memo is a game-changer, serving as the ultimate roadmap to bolster digital accessibility and effectively manage Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Digitally Accessible USA

Unraveling Section 508

Let’s break it down. Section 508 is the law that ensures if you’re part of the U.S. federal government or receive federal funds, your digital content must be accessible. For those in the U.S. federal government, Section 508 compliance is a must. Honestly? The initial adoption of Section 508 faced huge hurdles – unclear guidelines left many unsure about how to make their content truly accessible.

But then came WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) – a game-changing set of guidelines designed to boost accessibility. This refresh adopted WCAG 2.0 AA as the standard for website, electronic document, and software accessibility. And the big news? Section 508 has officially incorporated WCAG as the federal standard for accessibility, marking a major leap forward in fostering inclusivity. That means federal agencies and organizations must follow the WCAG guidelines because they are part of the Section 508 law – making the difference clear.

Even though the U.S. is one of the major players in digital inclusion, it appears that the journey toward a digitally accessible USA is still a work in progress, plagued by poor policy and process controls. That’s why now, the Biden administration has taken a bold step by setting stringent deadlines for digital inclusion in 2024.

OMB memo M-24-08 isn’t just paperwork – it’s setting the stage with very ambitious deadlines to drive digital accessibility forward. Let’s dive in and explore where to begin!

Key points of OMB:

  1. Delivering Accessible Digital Experiences: Prior to publishing electronic content, agencies should test it to ensure it meets accessibility requirements.
  2. Establishing Digital Accessibility Programs and Policies:  Agencies must designate a program manager accountable for overseeing digital accessibility processes.
  3. Procuring Accessible Products and Services: Agencies are encouraged to ensure any new information technology an agency plans to buy will be fully accessible.
  4. Monitoring and Remediating Problems: Digital accessibility is not a “one and done” initiative. Agencies should regularly scan web content using both automated and manual testing tools.
  5. Cultivating a Positive Culture of Digital Accessibility: Agencies are encouraged to offer Section 508 and digital accessibility training to employees.

Learn More: Read the policy guidance – OMB Memo 24-08

OMB’s Deadline Dash for 2024

The detailed requirements, outlined as a timeline from the memorandum’s release date on December 21, 2023:

  • In 30 Days – Assign the Section 508/ digital accessibility program manager, giving the tech tools to build an effective program.
  • In 90 Days – Establish an accessibility statement on the agency website and set up a system to receive feedback on accessibility, initiating the tracking of issues.
  • In 180 Days – Conduct all agency policies and develop a plan to update them along with the agency’s digital strategy to improve accessibility.

PDFs: A Hurdle for Section 508 Compliance?

Did you know that PDFs are everywhere on government websites, making up over half of all page visits? And don’t overlook those PDF forms – they’re super popular too! While PDFs gained fame in the ’90s for digitizing paper, let’s face it – their accessibility is a constant challenge. Their easy production brings hurdles, making them a delicate format and an accessibility compliance challenge.

So, whether you’re a federal agency or a business focused on inclusivity, the secret sauce to success is clear – invest in cutting-edge, accessible PDF technology. Select a solution that your agency can rely on, guaranteeing compliance with standards and ensuring access for all.

OMB Procurement of Accessible PDF Technology

Navigating all those accessibility laws can be overwhelming, as we all know. With so many regulations and guidelines out there, having technology that supports and covers all these standards is a must-have – making the hard job easy for you. So, let’s begin with our tips – see the criteria that reliable accessible tech should meet while also aligning with the latest OMB regulations:

  1. Technology tool must conforms to Section 508 standards by meeting WCAG success criteria and PDF Techniques for WCAG.
  2. Technology should supports automated testing in combination with manual testing, as automated tools alone cannot assess conformance to accessibility standards.
  3. It should perform reliable validation testing in conformance to law and standards.
  4. Remember – higher-quality software tech facilitates easy employee engagement, enhancing agency operations and reducing long-term operating costs.

Your Professional PDF Accessibility Solution

If your team seeks a tech provider to ensure WCAG compliance and meet all requirements outlined in the updated memorandum, get in touch with us. PDFix offers software solutions that effortlessly address any document accessibility challenges. Our solution tools ensure full standards compliance – from validating documents to automated or manual remediation, along with PDF to HTML conversions for web accessibility, our PDFix Desktop Pro has it all.

Start by downloading our free version to explore all the features or contact us for a live demo.