On November 5, the Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) received the IDEA's first annual government best practices team award for its successful implementation of Section 508 goals and guidelines. The provisions of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, require all federal agencies' electronic information be accessible to people with disabilities and be comparable to the information and access provided to those without disabilities. The award was presented during IDEAS 2003, a conference sponsored by the General Services Administration (GSA), PostNewsweek Tech Media and over 15 government agencies, to raise awareness and understanding of Section 508 requirements and the technology that is available to help government meet the requirements.
"I am very proud that USPTO developed a clearly defined and well-enforced program that is responsive to the needs of its employees and customers," said James E. Rogan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property. "As we expand our electronic services, it is important that we continue to provide the quality, efficiency and accessibility demanded by the national and global marketplaces."
The USPTO is one of only a few federal agencies that has a fully operational Section 508 program and has been a model for other agencies. The GSA, the federal agency responsible for educating federal employees and building the infrastructure necessary to support Section 508 implementation, has used USPTO's program as a guide for federal procurement officials participating in its nationwide Section 508 training programs.
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