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Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act – Systems Covered

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Section 1557 requires covered entities to make all health programs and activities provided through electronic and information technology accessible. This requirement is wide ranging and broadly relates to any aspects of the health care program or service provided in a digital form. This would include: Access to an online appointment system Accessible electronic billing and statements Comparison of health plans offered through a health insurance marketplace Information on the specific plan and benefits provided It is important to note that OCR very clearly does not limit the application of the regulations to websites. In fact, anything that falls under the… Read More

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act – Implementing Accessibility Regulations

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This article is part two of a series on accessibility and the Affordable Care Act. Read part one here if you missed it. The section “Accessibility of electronic and information technology” (45 CFR § 92.204) contains the implementing regulations for Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. The rule provides for broad protection for individuals with disabilities and requires covered entities to make all programs and activities provided through digital channels to be accessible. The first requirement—paragraph (a)—defines the core of the regulation which requires that “health programs or activities provided through electronic and information technology are accessible to individuals with… Read More

Section 508 Refresh Webinar – Q&A

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This post includes my responses to all of the questions posed in last week’s webinar: Section 508 Refresh – Understanding the New Requirements.  For more information on this topic, you can access the webinar slides, transcript, and recorded presentation at info.ssbbartgroup.com/508-Refresh-Webinar_Gateway, or check out my Section 508 Refresh Series on the blog. With the Refresh, are there any expected changes to the bi-annual OMB reporting? The Department of Justice is mandated to survey and create a biennial report to congress and to the President of the United States on the implementation of Section 508.  There is a long history of this not occurring consistently. … Read More

US Access Board Approves Final Section 508 Rule – Sends to OMB For Last Review

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Today at the US Access Board’s meeting in Washington DC, the Board voted to approve and forward the final rule text and preamble of the ICT Standards and Guidelines (aka the Section 508 Refresh) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for final review prior to publishing in the Federal Register. The vote gives OMB staff authority to make non-substantive changes. In addition, the final regulatory assessment will be forwarded to all Board members once it has been received.  Health and Human Services was the only Board member to abstain from voting, all others voted yes to the rulemaking…. Read More

Accessibility Considerations for Localization

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Localization is the process of translating a product into different languages or adapting a product for a specific country or region.   When localization is performed on web content, information such as alternatives used by people with disabilities may inadvertently be overlooked.  When pages are localized, language teams often update strings of content and view the visual changes on the web page.  Some accessibility information is not visible on a web page but still must be localized, e.g. alternative text for images and text positioned off-screen for screen readers. Localization teams need procedures and tools to help them find this accessibility… Read More

Digital Accessibility in Health Care – Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

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Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of a variety of different classifications—such as race and sex—but most notably for us, prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Section 1557 is not intended to stand alone but works in conjunction with other Federal anti-discrimination and civil rights legislation. The overall requirements of Section 1557 have been in effect since their enactment in 2010 and the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has been enforcing the provision since it was enacted. As part of the text accompanying the rulemaking, OCR invites anyone that believes they… Read More

Section 508 Refresh – Next Steps for Federal Agencies & Their Vendors

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While the wheels of the legislative branch turn slowly, it is recommended that federal agencies and their vendors start getting to know WCAG 2.0 and developing their remediation plans so they are already well on their way to compliance by the day the Refresh is official. Where do you start? Where you start depends on where your organization stands currently when it comes to digital accessibility: New to Accessibility The best place to start is with an audit, which will give your leadership team a high-level overview of your level of compliance with WCAG 2.0 A and AA and your development… Read More

Section 508 Refresh – RTT Functionality, Interoperability Requirements, & Miscellaneous Additions

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RTT Functionality The Section 508 Refresh would require that whenever two-way voice communication is provided, real-time text (RTT) functionality be provided to allow for comparable access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Real-time text is transmitted on a character-by-character basis as the characters are typed, rather than as a single block of text once transmission is complete. Instant messaging and SMS (often called text messages) are examples of text-based communication that sends the message after it is completed rather than character by character. RTT is especially important for emergency situations when a partial message would be valuable…. Read More

Section 508 Refresh – WCAG 2.0, Functional Performance & Tech Requirements

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The Section 508 Refresh recognizes the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 as the success criteria applicable to websites, electronic documents, and software. This brings the 508 Standards up to date with the technologies available today, ensuring that individuals with disabilities are able to use them. WCAG 2.0 is technology-neutral, so it is easily applied to all sorts of technology. Using WCAG 2.0 will also bring the US government and its vendors into harmony with the international accessibility community. This will help create a uniform experience for users with disabilities around the world and allow vendors to conform to WCAG… Read More

Section 508 Refresh – Changes in Electronic Documents

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Electronic documents will be explicitly addressed in the Section 508 Refresh. Electronic documents are arguably covered under the current standards especially when posted to websites, but are not always put into practice. With the current draft of the Section 508 Refresh, coverage of electronic content is limited to specific categories of information communicated by agencies to employees or to members of the general public during the conduct of official agency business, as determined by the agency mission. The standards for this content are currently tracking as the WCAG 2.0 A and AA conformance requirements with PDF/UA-1 as an option. These categories… Read More

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