The Postal Service™ impacts the daily lives of all Americans. Access to postal facilities and services by persons with disabilities has always been of greatest importance. New buildings are designed and built to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities. Over the years, many older Postal Service buildings have been retrofitted to facilitate accessibility. That spirit of commitment is being applied to compliance with Section 508. The Postal Service takes seriously its mandate to serve ALL people.
The United States Postal Service®, a federal agency, is subject to the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (ABA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, rather than the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Under the ABA, which covers the design, construction, and alteration of leased and owned federal facilities, the Postal Service has issued standards in its RE-4 Handbook, "Standards for Facility Accessibility by the Physically Handicapped." Postal Service Section 504 regulations, which are published in 39 CFR Part 255, prohibit discrimination with respect to Postal Programs and Services.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 established some basic requirements for the federal government, including the Postal Service™, to accommodate persons with disabilities. Section 508, which extended the Act to cover electronic and information technology, was added in 1986 and went into effect on June 21, 2001.
Section 508 requires that when Federal agencies procure Electronic and Information Technology (EIT), they must ensure that it is compliant with the Access Board standards designed to make EIT accessible to persons with disabilities, unless it would pose an undue burden to do so. Federal employees and members of the public who have disabilities must have access to and use of information and services procured on or after June 21, 2001, that is comparable to the access and use available to non-disabled Federal employees and members of the public.
The Act defines electronic and information technology requirements in 8 categories:
- Software applications and operating systems
- Web-based internet and intranet information systems
- Telecommunications products
- Video and multimedia products
- Self-contained products
- Desktop and portable computers
- Functional performance criteria
- Information, documentation and support
USPS® Compliance with Federal Regulations
The Postal Service™ is highly committed to achieving compliance and the approach is proactive. In response to Section 508, the Postal Service has done the following:
- Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) purchased by the Postal Service™ on and after June 21, 2001 is required to be compliant with the accessibility standards unless it meets one of the exceptions in the law.
- Multiple channels of communication are used to frequently reinforce requirements of Section 508 internally.
- USPS® Section 508 Web Accessibility Guidelines were developed to ensure standard implementation throughout the Postal Service.
- Section 508 training forums have been held.
- The United States Postal Service® Purchasing Manual has been revised to ensure that information technology purchased by the Postal Service complies with Section 508 Accessibility Standards.