Trusted Tester and Office of Accessible Systems and Technology

All federal agencies must comply to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act to make their websites and online applications accessible to the blind and the disabled. With many millions of web pages involved and millions of dollars of procurement dollars at stake, the feds needed a go-to place for all federal agencies to become compliant. The Office of Accessible Systems & Technology (OAST) was thus established as part of both the Office of Chief Information Officer because of the technical nature of online accessibility, and the Office for Civil Rights because of their enforcement mandate. The Office for Civil Rights and the Department of Justice handle accessibility compliance, for example to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act for the federal sector, and Title II and III of the ADA, issuing judicial complaints as necessary.

To fulfill their mission to give agencies a comprehensive and objective answer on how to become accessible, OAST established their Trusted Tester Program, an intensive 6-month accessibility training program that awards a certificate to those who can achieve at least a 90% score on the one-week final. Agencies can then rely on such certified Trusted Testers to audit agency websites according to an objective, standardized collection of 81 explicit failure conditions. Once such a certified Trusted Tester reports that a website has passed their audit, the agency is assured that they are compliant to Section 508.

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