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Framework Transmittal Letter

MEMORANDUM [COPY]

DATE:

04/08/08


 

TO:

Assistant Secretaries, Operating and Staff Division Directors


 

FROM:

Christina Pearson, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs [signed]


 

THRU:

Prudence Goforth, Director [signed]
HHS Web Communications Division


 

SUBJECT:

Section 508 Compliance and Remediation Plan

On January 11, 2008, Joe Ellis, Kevin Schweers and Dr.Giannini sent you a memorandum related to notices sent to HHS by Accessing Digital America (ADA) identifying significant Section 508 non-compliance on HHS Departmental Web sites. OGC is currently reviewing a draft MOU between HHS and ADA outlining the Department’s plans to provide accessibility to its Web holdings.

Since January, many of your staff have: collaborated in Digital Council discussions of compliance and remediation planning; participated in basic awareness training and discussion of divisional 508 issues; assisted in the development of 508 standards and guidance; and explored Web tools needed to create and test compliant documents and Web sites.

Together we have looked at ways to address 508 compliance across all Departmental Web sites. Today, we are issuing the combined results of that collaboration: the HHS 508 Web Compliance and Remediation Framework (Framework). Each Operating and Staff Division, working within this Framework, must formulate Division Plans to reach compliance over a five-year phased-in period. The elements in this Framework set minimum actions for each year and reporting requirements that must be incorporated in your individual Plans. Your Division may choose to accelerate the compliance timeline; the Framework (and forthcoming MOU) requires full 508 compliance on HHS Web sites by September 30, 2012

There is no escaping the fact this will cost money. It will require Divisions and the Department to redirect Web resources from some of the non-strategic work we see every day to the mundane but critical task of making content fully accessible, making the Web work, and eliminating the liability of outdated content.

To accomplish what must be done, we need your help in several ways:

  • Reiterate to your Division the importance of accessibility and our commitment to Section 508 compliance (example memo sent from Kerry Weems attached);
  • Name a Senior Manager by April 30, 2008 who will work closely with your Digital Council members and 508 Official and is responsible for preparing and implementing your Division’s 508 Compliance and Remediation Plan;
  • Prioritize and redirect sufficient Web resources to insure successful completion of your and the Department’s plan; and
  • Ensure that performance plan language is inserted for all SES, Public Affairs Directors, Web staff and Project Officers (currently in approval process with ASAM).

This is both a challenge and an opportunity. Already, we are compiling the first-ever inventory of Departmental Web pages. That inventory is uncovering thousands of forgotten or outdated pages that waste resources and clog the system. We’ve discovered 750,000+ broken links, averaging one for every two pages -- guaranteed frustration for site visitors. We can clean up our sites and at the same time significantly reduce the challenge ahead if we simply ask, for each page or file we confront “is this content worth the cost and trouble of remediation.”

We will be supporting this effort by providing guidance and training, researching tools and developing standards as we continue working with your Digital Council Representatives and 508 Officials to help craft your Division’s Remediation Plan.

All questions and replies to this memorandum and Framework should be addressed to: prudence.goforth@hhs.gov . We look forward to working with you on this critical effort.

Attachments:

Framework
Example Memo issued by Kerry Weems
List of Digital Council Members and 508 Officials


 

cc:

Digital Council Members 508 Officials