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Information Technology - General Information

Information Technology - General Information

Section 508 - EIT Accessibility

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is committed to making its Web sites and all of its electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to the widest possible audience, including individuals with disabilities.  In keeping with its mission, CMS complies by implementing the regulations of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Section 508 Implementation Policy.

Synopsis of Section 508 Accessibility Requirements:

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, requires that when Federal agencies procure, develop, maintain, or use EIT, they ensure that Federal employees and members of the public with disabilities have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access to and use of information and data that is available to individuals without disabilities.

The first regulation implementing Section 508 was issued by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (the "Access Board"), an independent Federal agency, whose primary mission is to promote accessibility for individuals with disabilities.This regulation is referred to as the Access Board's "EIT Accessibility Standards," which became enforceable on June 21, 2001. The Access Board's standards set forth a definition of EIT and the technical and functional provisions and performance criteria necessary for compliance with Section 508.  (See related links outside CMS at the bottom of this page.)  

In January 2005, the Secretary of HHS signed the "HHS Policy for Section 508 Electronic and Information Technology (EIT)". (See related links outside CMS at the bottom of this page). This policy establishes guidance for implementing Section 508 throughout the Department.  

In June 2006, CMS issued the "CMS Policy for Section 508 Compliance" to establish the policy by which the Agency will ensure compliance with Section 508.  In August 2006, CMS also issued the Agency's procedure for submitting and handling a complaint that alleges that CMS does not comply with Section 508 in providing accessible EIT (see download provided below).  

On March 25, 2008, the current Acting CMS Administrator issued an EIT Accessibility Policy Statement to all CMS employees, contractors, and business partners to reiterate the Agency's commitment to ensuring EIT accessibility to the widest possible audience (see download provided below).  On March 28, 2008, CMS issued an updated "CMS Policy for Section 508 Compliance" that established new responsibilities, procedures, and mechanisms for ensuring Section 508 compliance for all of the Agency's EIT products and services procured, developed, maintained, or used by CMS (see download provided below).  The Agency has developed additional supporting procedures and forms to further ensure that CMS is compliant with Section 508 for all of its EIT products and electronic communications (see downloads provided below). 

Although Federal agencies have an explicit statutory obligation to make all EIT that they develop, procure, maintain, or use compliant with Section 508, individuals may only file complaints or lawsuits to enforce Section 508's requirements with respect to EIT systems procured or deployed on or after June 21, 2001.  The Section 508 requirements do not apply retroactively to pre-existing EIT.  However, as agencies upgrade and change their EIT, they must comply with the standards.  Specifically, the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards: Economic Assessment states that:

"The standards are to be applied prospectively and do not require Federal agencies to retrofit existing electronic and information technology.  As agencies upgrade and change their electronic and information technology, they must comply with the standards."

It should be noted, however, that Federal agencies have additional responsibilities under Section 501 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  These Sections require that agencies provide reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities and provide program access to members of the public with disabilities and take other actions necessary to prevent discrimination on the basis of disability in their programs.

For Alternate Access to CMS Web Information: 

CMS' Web information should be accessible via screen readers and other accessibility tools.  The Agency is actively working to identify and remediate some pre-2001 information that may not be available in accessible formats, as well as any other content found to be non-compliant.  If you need an alternative means of access to any information on the CMS Web site, please contact us. (See related links inside CMS at the bottom of this page).  Let us know the nature of your accessibility problem, the Web address of the requested information, and your contact information.  If you need to convert PDF documents, AdobeĀ® offers conversion tools at its Accessibility Resource Center.

Section 508 Product Assessment:

In accordance with the Access Board's EIT Accessibility Standards and the CMS Policy for Section 508 Compliance, CMS requires the completion of a Section 508 Product Assessment (formerly known as a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)) as the mechanism for providing information regarding an EIT product's compliance with the Section 508 accessibility standards.  A completed Section 508 Product Assessment must be submitted to the CMS Section 508 Coordinator prior to production release of any new EIT product procured or developed by CMS after January 1, 2006. This requirement applies to any EIT product used to acquire, store, manipulate, or transmit information.  This includes software applications and operating systems; web-based intranet and internet information and applications such as distance learning; telephones and other telecommunications products; information kiosks and transaction machines; video equipment and multimedia products that may be distributed on videotapes, CDs, DVDs, or the World Wide Web; office products such as photocopiers and fax machines; calculators; and computer hardware.  This also includes custom-developed and COTS/GOTS software and software upgrades, including dot versions. The Section 508 Product Assessment is to be completed by the vendor or developer of the EIT product.  (See download provided below.)


CMS Administrator EIT Accessibility Policy Statement (PDF, 28KB)

CMS Policy for Section 508 Compliance (PDF, 210 KB)

Procedure: Determining Section 508 Compliance (PDF, 365 KB)

Procedure: Conducting Market Research (PDF, 137 KB)

Procedure: Section 508 Exceptions (PDF, 137 KB)

Procedure: Section 508 Complaints (PDF, 101 KB)

Section 508 Product Assessment (ZIP, 54 KB)

Standards Evaluation Spreadsheet (ZIP, 15 KB)

Section 508 Determination & Findings for Purchase Requests (PDF, 92 KB)

General EIT Exception Certification Form (ZIP, 166 KB)

"Commercial Non-Availability" Exception Certification Form (ZIP, 167 KB)

"Undue Burden" Exception Certification Form (ZIP, 167 KB)
Related Links Inside CMS

Contact CMS

Related Links Outside CMSExternal Linking Policy
 HHS Section 508 Policy and Guidance

Section 508 Federal Website

United States Access Board

EIT Accessibility Standards


Page Last Modified: 07/23/2008 10:25:32 AM
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