Section 508 Self-Evaluation
Questions and Answers for Designated Agency Officials
Every two years, the Attorney General is required by statute to issue a status report to Congress
and the President regarding agencies' progress toward implementation of section 508 of the
Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794d. The next report is due August 7, 2001. All federal
agencies are required by statute to cooperate with this effort by providing whatever information
the Attorney General deems necessary to the preparation of this report. Your agency must
complete its self-evaluation by April 6, 2001.
As a Designated Agency Official (DAO), your agency has chosen you as the person in charge of
conducting your agency's self-evaluation. This memorandum summarizes your responsibilities,
including answers to basic questions about how you can guide your agency to a quick and easy
resolution of this project. If you have any questions, please contact us.
Department of Justice's Section 508 Coordinators
202-305-8304 (voice mail)
202-353-8944 (TTY mail)
Q1: What's different about this year's self-evaluation?
A: If you participated in your agency's 1999 self-evaluation, you will notice that the current
survey is much less burdensome. We are asking agencies to conduct streamlined self-evaluations that address two specific topics, as well as some more general questions. The
two specific topics include:
- accessibility of web pages for people with disabilities; and
- procedures and policies for resolving complaints.
Q2: What are my responsibilities as a "Designated Agency Official?"
A: If you are your agency's Designated Agency Official (DAO), you are responsible for
successful and timely completion of your agency's self-evaluation. You will also be the
"point-of-contact" to whom the Department of Justice will correspond for all self-evaluation matters. You will coordinate responses by your agency's components and will
answer all agency-level survey questions.
The Department of Justice will assign you a username and ask you to select a password
for use on the data-collection website (http://www.508.org). You will be able to review
and edit your submissions, including the web accessibility submissions from components
within your agency, before they are transmitted to the Department of Justice. No one
except DAO's will have this ability.
Q3: Can our agency have more than one DAO?
A: Yes. Some agencies may wish to designate two DAO's: one who will be responsible for
the substance of agency submissions and another to handle administrative functions. To
add or delete a DAO, your agency must contact the Department of Justice. Each DAO
will be able to access and modify your agency's self-evaluation data before it is submitted
to the Department of Justice on the www.508.org website.
Q4: What are the "components" of my agency and how do I choose the "Component
A: The Web Page Accessibility Questionnaire is designed to be filled out at the component
level. For this purpose, each agency subdivision that maintains or develops its own web
pages should respond as an independent component. There will also likely be an agency-wide response for agency-wide web pages that do not fall within the exclusive control of
one subdivision or another. As your agency's DAO, it is your responsibility to identify
the relevant components within your agency to respond to the web accessibility
questionnaire designed for their use. For your own convenience, we strongly recommend
that you work with each component to identify a single person or very small group of
people to act as point-of-contact for each component (Component Web Contact). They
will act as your team for completing the self-evaluation of your agency's web pages.
Once you have designated the Component Web Contacts, you will have the ability to
create accounts (usernames and passwords) for each of them. These accounts will enable
them to enter data onto the www.508.org website.
Q5: Can agency components have more than one contact per component?
A: Yes. Having more than one Component Web Contact per component, however, can
increase the coordination responsibilities of DAO's. DAO's are responsible for ensuring
that their agency does not submit duplicate entries. DAO's are also the only agency
personnel with the ability to establish or delete accounts for Component Web Contacts.
Q6: How can Designated Agency Officials control access to and the content of their
A: As a Designated Agency Official, you will assign usernames and passwords for each of
your agency's Component Web Contacts. You will be able to review and edit their data
before it is submitted to the Department of Justice.
Q7: Should each Component Web Contact answer all questions based on his or her
knowledge of the agency as a whole?
A: No. As the Designated Agency Official, it is your responsibility to coordinate with all of
your Component Web Contacts to ensure that they are submitting data only as it pertains
to the limits of his or her authority or control within the agency or its component. You
should try to ensure that your agency responds as fully as possible without generating
overlapping responses. You will also determine which person(s) or office(s) in the
agency will be responsible for evaluating agency-wide applications, such as agency-wide
Q8: Why is there greater focus on web sites than other technologies?
A: The Access Board (Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board)
published standards implementing section 508 on December 21, 2000. Those standards
are not enforceable until June 21, 2001. As the Department of Justice's report is due
August 7, 2001, there is not enough time for agencies to conduct a comprehensive survey
on all aspects of accessible technology. Instead, the Department of Justice has chosen the
accessibility of federal agencies' web sites as the focus of this year's survey. This focus
is consistent with a Presidential Memorandum issued July 26, 2000, requiring all agencies
to "make all programs offered on their Internet and Intranet sites accessible to people with
disabilities by July 27, 2001, consistent with the requirements of [sections 501, 504, and
508 of] the Act and subject to the availability of appropriations and technology," among
Q9: Can we send in our data to the Department on paper instead of entering it on the
A: No. You must submit your data electronically through the www.508.org website.
Q10: How will our information be used by the Attorney General?
A: On August 7, 2001, the Attorney General will send a report to the President and the
Congress. This report will summarize the extent to which electronic and information
technology used by the Federal government is accessible to and usable by persons with
disabilities and the steps being taken by federal agencies as a whole for achieving
compliance with Section 508. The report will reflect the limited topics of focus of the
self-evaluation materials: how agencies are planning to handle complaints filed under
section 508, the accessibility of their Internet and intranet pages for people with
disabilities, and some general matters. Like the Attorney General's April 2000 report,
Information Technology and People with Disabilities: The Current State of Federal
Accessibility, the August 7, 2001 report will include data, analysis, and
Q11: Can our agency bypass the self-evaluation process and provide the Attorney
General with information about our reasonable accommodation policies and
A: No. This self-evaluation process focuses on your technology rather than looking at how
your agency provides reasonable accommodations to specific individuals with known
disabilities. It is important that you conduct this self-evaluation without regard to
whether your agency or its components have employees with disabilities or communicate
with members of the public who have disabilities.
Q12. We don't have any employees with disabilities. Do we still have to do a self-evaluation?
A: Yes. Section 508 applies to your agency whether or not you currently have any
employees with disabilities. If you use electronic and information technology - and we
all do - then you must comply with all parts of section 508, including the requirement to
conduct regular self-evaluations under the guidance of the Department of Justice.