An Official Website of The United States Government
Saturday, February 16, 2013
You are here: Section 508 Leadership Core Competencies

Section 508 Leadership Core Competencies


Section 508 is a very complex law with far reaching implications for how your agency buys, builds, maintains and uses technology. Accessible technology allows more people with disabilities to apply for federal jobs and obtain government services and information. It also helps current federal employees with disabilities perform their duties with greater ease. As the pace of technology adoption continues to accelerate across the federal government, the Section 508 standards themselves are undergoing changes with significant implications for federal agencies.

Perhaps now more than ever, your agency needs a strong leader to guide your agency’s Section 508 compliance activities and to minimize your legal exposure. The Section 508 Program Manager is a unique role that leads and coordinates all Section 508 activities in your agency. The Section 508 Program Manager establishes and implements agency policies, procedures, governance models, performance measurement, communications and training initiatives. The Section 508 Program Manager also must have the positional and influential authority, knowledge, skills and abilities to lead your Section 508 program. As with any key leadership position, the stronger the candidate, the more effective and efficient the program will be.

Over fifty federal Section 508 Coordinators provided feedback that informed the Section 508 Leadership Core Competencies; representing a diverse cross section of agencies. While your position description will need to match your organization’s unique size, structure and approach to implementing and using technology, you can use the Core Competencies as an initial framework for determining qualifications, roles and responsibilities, and expectations for the Section 508 Program Manager role.

Best Practice Guidelines

The Section 508 Leadership Core Competencies focus on five key roles:


The Section 508 Program Manager is responsible for leading and coordinating the agency’s compliance activities. The program manager:

  • establishes compliance policies and procedures,
  • sets organizational goals for achieving 508 compliance,
  • leads compliance program initiatives,
  • incorporates compliance requirements into the agency’s procurement, development and maintenance life cycles,
  • provides for governance and oversight,
  • measures and reports on the effectiveness of compliance program activities, and
  • provides training and marketing programs to effectively communicate Section 508 requirements throughout your agency.

Strategic Partner

To be successful, the Section 508 Program Manager must build and maintain strategic partnerships with key roles inside and outside your agency, including:

  • technology providers,
  • operations and service delivery components,
  • procurement officials,
  • civil rights and reasonable accommodation officials,
  • human resource staff,
  • communications and training groups,
  • legal staff, and
  • other federal Section 508 program managers.


You must understand the needs of the disability community and advocacy groups in order to successfully implement a Section 508 compliance program. You must also effectively communicate those needs, the organization’s requirements to address those needs, and the potential benefits of meeting those needs throughout your organization. The Section 508 Program Manager advocates and negotiates for improved accessibility with internal and external technology providers and agency stakeholders.

Technical Expert

Your agency needs to understand how Section 508 and related accessibility laws, regulations, and standards apply to a broad range of organizational activities and business operations, including the procurement, development, maintenance, use of electronic and information technology. The Section 508 Program Manager serves as the agency focal point for providing clear technical guidance and assistance. This technical guidance is essential to ensuring your organization fully understands its compliance obligations, and applies a consistent approach to implementing accessibility requirements.

Change Manager

Incorporating Section 508 compliance into your agency’s operational and service delivery processes is not an easy task. In addition to all the roles mentioned above, a Section 508 Program Manager needs to understand how to manage change at the agency level. Especially when starting up a Section 508 program, many employees will need to change current work practices and attitudes about meeting the unique needs of people with disabilities. For established programs, changes to existing compliance requirements, policies, and procedures will be required to support the upcoming refresh of the Section 508 standards. The Section 508 Program Manager must support agency leaders with guiding the organization through the change process in order to achieve widespread adoption and effective compliance implementation.

  1. Core Competencies Model