A Playbook for Section 508
By: Ann Marie Davis, Senior Section 508 Technical Specialist
“Making accessible technology is a lot like making blueberry muffins. You can’t put the blueberries in the muffin after the muffin is baked.” - Cordelia McGee-Tubb, web accessibility engineer at Salesforce
Too often, accessibility has been an afterthought and accessibility teams have been viewed as “enforcers,” rather than collaborators with shared goals – until the development of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Section 508 Playbook!
In the sports world, a playbook is a resource containing the team's strategies and plays to win. The DHS Playbook provides a series of “plays” giving role-based guidance for how to bake-in the “ingredients” needed to achieve accessibility. For example, instead of addressing accessibility at the end of the development process, the playbook provides strategies to ensure accessibility is addressed when designing information and communication technology (ICT).
Using the Playbook, project teams can proactively address Section 508 requirements early in the development life cycle, and comprehensively provide guidance for IT acquisition, design, and development – integrating accessibility into the project from inception to release. The Playbook provides guidelines, best practices, and other resources to help teams meet their Section 508 legal obligations, while reducing re-work and deployment costs, and avoiding delays.
The Playbook was designed to be a useful resource for people without a lot of Section 508 expertise, as well as IT program managers, developers, testers, acquisition staff, 508 Subject Matter Experts, and Section 508 Program Managers. The plays provide practical step-by-step instructions and help users understand what needs to be done, gives instructions on how to do it, and provides tools and other resources.
New Editions played an important role in helping DHS determine what accessibility services would be needed to help meet agency requirements in the areas of acquisition, accessible design, document accessibility, automated accessibility testing, manual testing, and deliverable acceptance. These services will enable DHS and other organizations, to provide more robust support to IT teams, helping them to identify the specialized tasks for the services, the process to perform them, and the expertise needed to execute them.
If you or your project team are looking for additional information about Plays, resources/jobs aids, or additional guidance, information about the DHS Section 508 Playbook is publicly available on GSA’s Accessibility page.