The Office of Accessible Systems & Technology (OAST) is dedicated to guiding and supporting all DHS Components in removing barriers to information access and employment of qualified individuals with disabilities in accord with Section 508 requirements. OAST strives to ensure that electronic and information technology (EIT) procured, developed, maintained, or used is accessible to DHS employees and customers with disabilities through a range of policy, training, technical assistance, and compliance activities.
For most people, technology makes things easier.
For people with disabilities, however, technology makes things possible.
- quoted in 1988 by Mary Pat Radabaugh, Director of IBM’s National Support Center for Persons With Disabilities
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was established in January 2003, merging 22 agencies into one unified department to secure the United States and preserve the American way of life. It is the second largest department in the federal government and the newest. Since its inception, DHS has progressed in integrating business processes, systems, and responsibilities across numerous organizational elements, to most efficiently and effectively conduct the critical services under its purview. Every DHS employee and customer must be able to readily access information and data relevant to their job or needs, including those with disabilities. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended) requires all federal departments and agencies to ensure that their electronic information and technology (EIT) is accessible to people with disabilities. To meet these requirements, the Offices of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) and Civil Rights & Civil Liberties (CRCL) jointly created the Office of Accessible Systems & Technology (OAST).
The mission of OAST is to provide strategic direction, governance, technical support, and training to ensure DHS employees and customers with disabilities have equal access to DHS information and data. OAST leads Department-wide implementation of Section 508, offers policy and program direction and technical assistance to DHS Components, provides and develops appropriate educational activities and resources, reviews acquisitions for Section 508 compliance, and evaluates and reports on DHS compliance with Section 508. In addition, OAST offers guidance and technical assistance to DHS personnel on reasonable accommodations.
Our Guiding Principles
Implementing Section 508 requires a change in culture
Policies and procedures drive accessibility
Standardize accessibility solutions is the shortest path to full inclusion
Include the needs of people with disabilities in all phases of a product life cycle
Accessibility benefits everyone