As we close National Disability Employment Awareness Month this October, I find it fitting to take a moment to recognize the efforts of the individuals and organizations who work tirelessly to promote accessibility and inclusion.
One significant stride has come through “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” Executive Order 13985 January 20, 2021, which helped prompt a review of the standard forms covered by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).
This review focused on equity issues, aiming to eliminate barriers to access and reduce burdens for underserved communities, including people with disabilities. The dedicated team behind this effort identified ways to enhance the usability of the FAR standard forms, making them more accessible for individuals with visual disabilities and learning difficulties.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), General Services Administration (GSA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently announced a shared commitment to making vital improvements. They agreed to apply a set of uniform visual enhancements to the FAR standard forms. These six improvements are:
- Replace all CAPS with standard title case text (Each word in titles is capitalized, and bold text is used to highlight titles).
- Use a consistent 12-point font size throughout the forms.
- Replace centered text with left justification, making text more accessible and easier to read.
- Replace italicized text with standard text, ensuring clarity for all users.
- Increase the spacing between lines of text, enhancing readability and comprehension.
- Move the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) statement to the end of the form for forms subject to the PRA.
In addition to these visual improvements, the review also encompassed updated citations and editorial corrections. It’s important to note that these changes align with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, underscoring the commitment to accessibility and inclusion. FAR forms will become more user-friendly and accessible to a broader audience. Simple changes can lead to more equitable opportunities and greater participation in federal processes.
“These FAR form accessibility updates represent what is possible when we focus efforts on ensuring better experiences in government interactions,” said Andrea M. O’Neal, GSA’s Senior Advisor to the Administrator for Equity. “Even simple improvements have a larger effect of demonstrating that the federal government is inclusive and responsive to the needs of its employees and all the communities it serves across the nation.”
As we celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month, let us remember that every small step towards accessibility and inclusivity is a great leap for our society.