In December, 2011, the Office of Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) caused much consternation among the federal contracting community by publishing proposed changes to the affirmative action and nondiscrimination obligations of contractors and subcontractors regarding individuals with disabilities. Much has been written and discussed regarding the proposed data tracking requirements, utilization goals, solicitation requirements, and outreach efforts contemplated by the proposed regulations, but relatively little attention has been paid to the proposed addition of one particular sentence to 41 CFR §60-741.44(b), Review of Personnel Processes:
In addition, the contractor shall ensure that its use of information and communication technology is accessible to applicants and employees with disabilities.
If you are a federal contractor, this provision will require your websites, mobile applications, applicant systems and other means of communicating with employees and the public be accessible, to the extent feasible, to individuals with disabilities.
It is unclear when the final rule will be published. The most current information on the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs web site estimates OFCCP’s final rule will be published in April 2013. But, it is now May, and we are still waiting. Further, no one can tell you what the final rule will look like exactly, but if compliance reviews over the last several years are any indication, the smart money is on the inclusion of an accessibility requirement. It is likely that OFCCP will soon be scrutinizing contractors’ web sites for accessibility and issuing violations for shortcomings.