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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

600.6 Implementation and Administration of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act


Office of Primary Responsibility: Geographic Information Office

1. Purpose. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in electronic and information technology (EIT), to create new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will achieve these goals. This chapter establishes U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) policies, procedures, and responsibilities for the implementation and administration of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794d), as amended.

2. Authority. This chapter implements USGS policy in accordance with Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 1194 and Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), Subpart 39.2, as amended by Federal Acquisition Circular 97-27. The Rehabilitation Act requires Federal agencies to ensure that employees and members of the public who have disabilities have access and use of information that is comparable to the access and use of information by individuals who are not disabled, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. The Act also requires that all EIT developed, procured, maintained, or used by all Federal agencies, on or after June 21, 2001, must meet the accessibility standards developed by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (U.S. Access Board) and comply with Federal Acquisition Regulations as they relate to Section 508, with limited exceptions.

3. References.

A. FAR, Subpart 39.2, as amended by Federal Acquisition Circular 97-27 and 48 CFR 2, 7, 10, 11, 12 and 39. Available at:

B. Public Law 105-220, Amendment to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 USC 794d)

C. Public Law 106-246, Amendment to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

D. 36 CFR 1194, Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (U.S. Access Board). Standards available at:

E. Department of the Interior Instructional Memorandum, Information Resources Management BULLETIN 2001-006

4. General Exceptions. General exceptions to the Section 508 requirements are set forth in the U.S. Access Board regulation at 36 CFR 1194.3 and in FAR 39.204. The regulations exempt the following acquisitions from application of the standards:

A. EIT purchased prior to October 1, 2004, using micro-purchase procedures ($2500 or less);

B. EIT for a national security system;

C. EIT acquired by a contractor incidental to a contract;

D. EIT located in spaces frequented only by service personnel for maintenance, repair, or occasional monitoring of equipment.

5. Definitions.

A. Electronic and information technology. Includes information technology and any equipment or interconnected system that is used in the creation, conversion, or duplication of data or information. The term EIT includes, but is not limited to, telecommunications products (such as telephones), information kiosks and transaction machines, World Wide Web sites, multimedia products, office equipment such as copiers and fax machines, computers, ancillary equipment, software, firmware, services including support services and related resources such as help desks and documentation. See FAR 2.101 or Section 1194.4 of the U.S. Access Board standards.

B. Undue burden. Means significant difficulty or expense. In determining whether an action would result in an undue burden, the USGS shall consider all USGS resources available to the program or component for which the product is being developed, procured, maintained, or used.

C. Person with a Disability. Person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities or has a record of such impairment. In general, this includes individuals with a significant vision, hearing, dexterity, cognitive, or mobility impairment.

D. Alternate Methods. Different means of providing information, including product documentation, to people with disabilities. Alternate methods may include, but are not limited to, voice, fax, relay service, TTY, Internet posting, captioning, Braille, text-to-speech synthesis, and audio description.

E. Telecommunications. The transmission of information, between points specified by the user, without change in the form or content of the information as sent and received.

F. Accessibility. Allows individuals with disabilities to have access and use of information that is comparable to the access and use of the information by individuals who do not have disabilities.

6. Equivalent Facilitation. Equivalent Facilitation refers to EIT that does not meet the applicable technical provisions in the U.S. Access Board standards but provides substantially equivalent or greater access to and use of the product. Equivalent facilitation is not considered an exception or variance. Nothing in 36 CFR 1194.5 is intended to prevent the use of designs or technologies as alternatives to those chosen, provided they result in substantially equivalent or greater access and use of a product for people with disabilities.

7. Policy. It is USGS policy to make our information and services accessible to employees and the public to the greatest extent possible in accordance with the provisions and spirit of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended.

8. Requirements.

A. Documents posted on the USGS Internet and Intranet will comply with the USGS technical standards for web pages. These standards are available from the Section 508 page on the USGS Intranet.

B. Acquisitions over the micro-purchase threshold ($2500) will comply with the accessibility requirements of FAR 39.2 and applicable U.S. Access Board standards. The U.S. Access Board standards and guidelines for interpreting and applying the standards are available at

C. Although micro-purchases are exempt through September 30, 2004, employees are strongly encouraged to comply with the applicable accessibility standards to the maximum extent practicable.

D. When compliance with the Access Board standards would pose an undue burden, the information or data provided by that product or service will be made available in an alternative format that allows individuals with disabilities access to the information or data.

E. The USGS must comply with any accessibility standards that can be met within the commercial marketplace when acquiring commercial items. Agencies are not required to fundamentally alter their needs in order to comply with Section 508 nor to waive required delivery times waiting for more compliant solutions. Before acquiring commercial items that do not meet one or more aspects of the standards, the commercial nonavailability of fully compliant items must be documented by the requiring office. This determination must include a description of market research performed and identification of specific standards that cannot be met. The determination will be provided to the Contracting Officer for retention in the contract file.

F. One or more aspects of the applicable U.S. Access Board standards may be waived when the agency determines that compliance would pose an undue burden on the agency. [FAR 29.204(e)] This waiver must be supported by a written determination explaining the significant difficulty or expense, describing the program resources available, and demonstrating why compliance creates an undue burden. The undue burden determination must be signed by the Geographic Information Officer (GIO). A copy will be retained by the Bureau Section 508 Coordinator, the USGS Office of Acquisition and Grants, and the DOI Section 508 Coordinator; the original will be returned to the contract file.

G. USGS will make all reasonable efforts to ensure that software applications, multi media productions, and training developed or produced in-house meets the Section 508 Accessibility Standards, including EIT developed for other federal agencies.

9. Procedures.

A. All requisitions for EIT must include a signed and dated Section 508 compliance checklist of specific U.S. Access Board standards applicable to that acquisition. The checklist is available on the USGS Intranet, Information Technology acquisitions Web site.

B. All EIT acquired by USGS will meet applicable U.S. Access Board standards or provide equivalent facilitation unless the file is documented to demonstrate the nonavailability of fully compliant commercial products or contains an undue burden determination.

C. The USGS shall revise policies and procedures under our control as necessary when revisions are made to technical standards set forth in 36 CFR 1194 and 48 CFR Parts 2, 7, 10, 11, 12 and 39.

10. Responsibilities.

A. The Geographic Information Office will have primary responsibility for the oversight and administration of Section 508.

B. The USGS Section 508 Coordinator is appointed by the GIO and is responsible for the implementation and administration of the Section 508 program throughout the bureau. The USGS Section 508 Coordinator will:

(1) Develop an effective and realistic strategy for implementing the requirements of Section 508.

(2) Coordinate Section 508 training throughout the bureau.

(3) Respond to all inquiries or complaints relating to Section 508.

(4) Perform liaison duties between the USGS, the Department, and other Federal Agencies on Section 508 matters.

(5) Prepare the USGS response to the biannual Department of Justice Survey

(6) Brief the USGS Executive Leadership Team on the status of compliance with Section 508.

(7) Establish and coordinate a USGS Section 508 team of subject matter experts who are responsible for developing function-specific policy; disseminating appropriate information throughout the function or component; and providing input for bureau reports, briefings, and training as needed.

C. Managers who oversee the design, development, procurement, or use of EIT are responsible for ensuring that the applicable technical standards and procedural requirements of Section 508 are met.

D. All employees of the USGS who are involved in the design, development, procurement, or use of EIT have a responsibility to meet the applicable technical standards and procedural requirements of Section 508.

E. All USGS employees should understand the requirements of Section 508 and how they may apply to their business operations and processes.

11. Enforcement.

A. Any individual with a disability can file a complaint alleging that the USGS has not complied with Section 508 in any procurement of EIT.

B. All Section 508 complaints shall be submitted in writing to the USGS Section 508 Coordinator.

C. The procedure for filing a complaint under Section 508 shall be the same as described in 43 CFR 17.570(c) for filing a complaint under Section 504 for resolving allegations of discrimination in a Federally-conducted program or activity, except that complaints under Section 508 must be filed with the USGS Section 508 Coordinator and copies filed with the DOI Section 508 Coordinator and the USGS Disability Program Manager. All complaints shall be submitted in writing to the following address:

USGS Section 508 Coordinator 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, MS 807 Reston, VA 20192

D. The complaint process provides injunctive relief and attorney's fees to the prevailing party, but does not include compensatory or punitive damages.

E. The USGS will respond within 15 working days upon receipt of an official complaint submitted through the USGS complaint process. The response will include a plan to remedy the complaint, or provide comparable access through alternate methods.

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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA
Contact: APS, Office of Policy and Analysis
Issuing Office: Geographic Information Office, Section 508 Coordinator
Content Information Contact: Amy Berger,, 703-648-7124
Last modification: 26-Aug-2003@12:36 (sc)
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