1. Purpose

This Digital Content Accessibility Policy (“Policy” or “Accessibility Policy”) is based on the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794d), as amended (“Section 508”), which requires the County of Westchester (“County”) to develop, procure, maintain or use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in a manner that ensures that all electronic information and data available to the general public is accessible to individuals with disabilities, including members of the general public and County employees, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”). 

The County is committed to making all its electronic information and data available on its websites and other ICT/digital assets, including, but not limited to, web-based applications, intranet sites and tools, systems and other electronic documents and equipment, which are integral to the efficient County’s governmental operations and the timely delivery of services and information to the public, accessible to all individuals with disabilities, including County employees.  

This Policy is primarily intended to promote user independence and improve the user experience of all individuals with disabilities, including County employees, who use or require access to the County’s ICT/digital assets.   

2. Authority

Section 163 of the Charter and Administrative Code of Westchester County grants the County’s Department of Information Technology (DoIT) authority to establish countywide information and communication technology policies and standards. The County’s Chief Information Officer has the authority to oversee, direct and coordinate the establishment of ICT policies, protocols and standards for the County’s government, including hardware, software, security and business re-engineering processes. 

The Chief Information Officer reserves the right to modify, revise, supplement, rescind or archive this Policy.

3. Scope and Applicability

Section 508 requires federal agencies to develop, procure, maintain or use ICT to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to ICT information and data in a manner that is comparable to the access and use afforded to individuals without disabilities (i.e., “ICT accessibility”), unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. Section 508 requirements and standards apply to all state agencies including their employees and other third parties, e.g. local government, consultants, vendors and contractors. In addition, pursuant to Section 170-f of the New York State Executive Law, each contractor, subcontractor, vendor, consultant or other person providing services pursuant to a state contract is required to conform any website provided by such person to and for the purpose of the provision of such services to the most current version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines adopted by the World Wide Web Consortium for accessibility or any successor standards.

This Policy establishes the County’s minimum accessibility requirements to ensure that the County’s ICT is developed, procured, maintained or used by the County in a manner that is accessible to individuals with disabilities, including County employees.  ICT is defined as information technology and other equipment, systems, technologies, or processes for which the principal function is the creation, manipulation, storage, display, receipt or transmission of electronic data and information, as well as any associated content. Examples of ICT/digital content covered by this Policy include, but are not limited to:

  • Electronic documents (e.g., PDF files) 
  • Websites and pages
  • Applications
  • Software
  • Videos
  • Multifunction office machines, such as copiers and fax machines
  • Multimedia
  • Email communications
  • Surveys or questionnaires
  • Templates or forms
  • Educational or training materials

This Policy mandates that all County ICT electronic data and information made available to members of the general public (“public facing content”) shall be also accessible to individuals with disabilities, including County employees. In addition, electronic content that is not public facing content but is official County business, communicated through one of the following nine categories, must also be made accessible: 1) an emergency notification; 2) an initial or final decision adjudicating an administrative claim or proceeding; 3) an internal or external program or policy announcement; 4) a notice of benefits, program eligibility, employment opportunity, or personnel action; 5) a formal acknowledgment of receipt; 6) a survey or questionnaire; 7) a template or form; 8) educational or training materials; and 9) intranet content designed as a Web page.  The various County Departments must ensure that all public facing and non-public facing official County business must be made accessible to individuals with disabilities.

This Policy applies to all County employees and any other third parties, such as consultants, vendors, contractors, interns and temporary workers that develop, procure, maintain or use the County’s ICT such as websites, web-based applications, electronic documents and content and systems managed or hosted by third parties on behalf of the County, to ensure compliance with Section 508 requirements. Any known or suspected violations of this Policy shall be immediately reported to the appropriate supervisor or DoIT.  

The Chief Information Officer must approve any exceptions to this Policy.  

Persons who violate this Policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary and/or legal action.

4. Exemptions from Applicability

This Policy, which requires the County’s ICT to be developed, procured, maintained or used by the County in a manner that is accessible to individuals with disabilities, including County employees, does not apply to the following exemptions:  

4.1. County’s existing ICT 

Any component or portion of existing County’s ICT, meaning ICT that has been procured, maintained, or used on or before January 18, 2018, that complies with an earlier standard issued pursuant to Section 508, as amended, and that has not been altered on or after January 18, 2018, is not required to be modified to conform to the Section 508 standards. 

4.2. Undue Burden or Fundamental Alteration 

Compliance with Section 508 requirements and standards is not required in the event such compliance would impose an undue burden on the County or would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the County’s ICT.  The County’s Chief Information Officer shall have the authority and responsibility to determine what constitutes an undue burden or fundamental alteration.  In determining whether conformance to requirements in Section 508 standards would impose an undue burden, the County’s Chief Information Officer shall consider the extent to which conformance would impose significant difficulty or expense considering the County’s resources available to the program or component for which the ICT is to be procured, developed, maintained, or used. 

The County’s Chief Information Officer shall document in writing the basis for determining that conformance to requirements in the Section 508 standards constitutes an undue burden to the County or would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the County’s ICT, including technical and business analyses, and other project documentation, technologies or systems which are the subject of this policy or any applicable standards. The documentation shall include an explanation of why and to what extent compliance with applicable requirements would create an undue burden or result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the County’s ICT. 

Where conformance to one or more requirements in Section 508 standards imposes an undue burden or a fundamental alteration in the nature of the County’s ICT, the respective Department shall provide individuals with disabilities access to and use of information and data by an alternative means that meets identified needs.

5. Accessibility Standards

As indicated above, the County is required to comply with Section 508 ICT accessibility standards.  The federal law has adopted the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.2, Level AA Conformance (WCAG 2.2 Level AA), or any successor standards, as the required accessibility standards (“the Accessibility Standards”) in which federal, state and local entities, including the County, must be in compliance.  

All County websites, software applications, systems and electronic documents, equipment and content are expected to conform to the Accessibility Standards with respect to their design, content and platforms/infrastructure, in order for the County’s ICT electronic data and information to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. 

More information on Section 508, the Accessibility Standards, general exceptions, accessible products and services and training programs can be found at Section508.gov and/or https://www.access-board.gov/ict/ 

6. Governance, Roles and Responsibilities  

DoIT is responsible for establishing mechanisms to ensure that the County’s websites and digital content comply with the Accessibility Standards.  Further, DoIT is responsible to ensure that all Westchester County Departments are made aware of this Policy and the requirements for compliance with the Accessibility Standards.  The County’s website should indicate a commitment to accessibility by including a link to this or other iteration of this Policy. The linked page should specify whom to contact with questions about the County’s website’s accessibility and the accessibility of any other ICT under the control of the County.

Each County department is responsible for the creation of accessible documents and content, such as PDF files, destined to be published on a County website.  Upon a specific request by an individual who is unable to access a specific document or content on the County’s website, either the requested document or content must be updated by the responsible Westchester County Department to conform to the Accessibility Standards, or otherwise be made available in an alternative format to such individual in a timely manner. The Westchester County Department responsible for the creation and maintenance of the document or content on the County’s website is responsible for making it accessible or providing the alternative method for access.

In addition, all staff with web editing and content creation responsibilities are required to make any new County electronic document or content that is posted on County website pages conform to the Accessibility Standards. Any existing web content that does not meet the Accessibility Standards may be removed and can only be replaced with a document or content that is deemed compliant.   

In addition, it is recommended that Westchester County Departments incorporate accessibility requirements into the procurement process and County contracts when engaging with a vendor to develop or maintain ICT electronic information and data. This may include incorporating specific language into the procurement document or a County contract or Purchase Order requiring the vendor to follow the Accessibility Standards and this Policy. Requirements can even specify the tools used to check document accessibility compliance and vendors may be required to certify that Accessibility Standards have been met.  Please refer to the newly created ADA contract language.

DoIT may test and may require that some or all non-conforming portions of the County’s website be brought into conformance at the expense of the Westchester County Department that is responsible for accessibility compliance.  If DoIT is unable to determine who is responsible for the content of a non-conforming County website, then the DoIT Web Team is authorized to remove the non-conforming website content until it can be brought into conformance.

All Westchester County Departments have been provided training on how to make documents and content accessible/ADA compliant for the web.  It is therefore the responsibility of each Westchester County Department to adhere to the Accessibility Standards and this Policy, and to avail themselves of the tools and resources provided by DoIT to support digital accessibility efforts.  See this page on the County intranet to review recordings of previous training sessions and to access various resources related to digital accessibility.   

DoIT Graphics and Web Editing Teams will provide the tools and resources necessary to support the Westchester County Departments’ digital accessibility efforts.

The DoIT Graphics and Web Editing Teams will not: 

  • convert department Word docs and/or manuals into ADA compliant PDF files; 
  • create ADA compliant PDF files of brochures, fliers and other marketing materials not created by the Graphics team; 
  • train department staff in the area of web accessible PDF file creation. 
  • post any files that have not been made accessible as per the requirements set forth in the aforementioned training.   

The DoIT’s Graphics team will assist in the creation of ADA compliant PDFs from new print, social media and e-mail blasts files that the County's Graphics team artists have created.

The Executive IT Leadership team shall convene with DoIT’s Strategic Technology Architecture Roundtable (STAR) to review current application development standards to ensure that all new application development meets or exceeds the Accessibility Standards.