The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is committed to making its Web sites and all of its electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to the widest possible audience, including individuals with disabilities. In keeping with its mission, CMS complies by implementing the regulations of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Section 508 Implementation Policy.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, requires that when Federal agencies procure, develop, maintain, or use EIT, they ensure that Federal employees and members of the public with disabilities have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access to and use of information and data that is available to individuals without disabilities.
The first regulation implementing Section 508 was issued by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (the “Access Board”), an independent Federal agency, whose primary mission is to promote accessibility for individuals with disabilities. This regulation is referred to as the Access Board’s “EIT Accessibility Standards,” which became enforceable on June 21, 2001. The Access Board’s standards set forth a definition of EIT and the technical and functional provisions and performance criteria necessary for compliance with Section 508.
In January 2005, the Secretary of HHS signed the "HHS Policy for Section 508 Electronic and Information Technology (EIT)." This policy establishes guidance for implementing Section 508 throughout the Department.
In June 2006, the CMS Administrator issued the "CMS Policy for Section 508 Compliance," which establishes the policy by which CMS will ensure compliance with Section 508. In August 2006, CMS also issued the Agency's procedure for submitting and handling a complaint that alleges that CMS does not comply with Section 508 in providing accessible EIT.
Although Federal agencies have an explicit statutory obligation to make all EIT that they develop, procure, maintain, or use compliant with Section 508, individuals may only file complaints or lawsuits to enforce Section 508’s requirements with respect to EIT systems procured or deployed on or after June 21, 2001. The Section 508 requirements do not apply retroactively to pre-existing EIT. However, as agencies upgrade and change their EIT, they must comply with the standards. Specifically, the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards: Economic Assessment states that:
"The standards are to be applied prospectively and do not require Federal agencies to retrofit existing electronic and information technology. As agencies upgrade and change their electronic and information technology, they must comply with the standards."
It should be noted, however, that Federal agencies have additional responsibilities under Section 501 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. These Sections require that agencies provide reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities and provide program access to members of the public with disabilities and take other actions necessary to prevent discrimination on the basis of disability in their programs.
At this time, all QualityNet Web information should be accessible via screen readers and other accessibility tools, with the exception of some pre-2001 information that may not be available in accessible formats.
If you need an alternative means of access to any information on the QualityNet Web site, please contact the QualityNet Help Desk. Let us know the nature of your accessibility problem, the Web address of the requested information, and your contact information.
Many of our documents are available in PDF format. Version 6.0 of Adobe Reader®, formerly called Acrobat Reader, now includes a built-in Read Out Loud option. If your current version of Adobe Reader doesn't have this feature, the updated plug-in is available at no charge from Adobe.
Reader 6.0 synthesizes the text in Adobe PDF files into speech, using a regular Windows or Macintosh computer, so anyone can read basic Adobe PDF text files aloud, even without a screen reader. For more information about this new feature please read Adobe Acrobat 6.0 and Accessibility.
The Read Out Loud Option can be accessed by using the following key board short cuts:
If you use screen reader software (for example, an audio-enabled Web browser) which is not compatible with Adobe Reader, Adobe provides a free online tool which converts the content of PDF files to a format which can be understood by most screen reader applications. If you need to assistance to convert PDF documents, Adobe offers conversion tools at its Accessibility Resource Center at: http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/index.html.