Section 508 Conformance
What is Section 508 Conformance?
Section 508 is an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that aims to advances the opportunity of those with disabilities by making websites, electronic documents, software, etc. accessible to those with disabilities. It accomplishes this by requiring government funded projects to adhere to Section 508 compliance. This means that any private company awarded government funding or those under contract with federal agencies must also follow the guidance outlined in Section 508. Although Title III of the Americans with disabilities act does not specifically outline standards, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) does. Coincidently WCAG is specifically references as the standard set in Section 508.
On January 18, 2017, the U.S. Access Board updated accessibility requirements for information and communication technology (ICT) covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The "refresh" reorganizes Section 508 standards in response to market trends and innovations. It's goal is to ensure consistency in accessibility across the spectrum of information and communication technologies (ICT) covered. Other goals of this refresh include:
- Enhancing accessibility to ICT for people with disabilities;
- Making the requirements easier to understand and follow;
- Updating the requirements so that they stay abreast of the ever-changing nature of the technologies covered; and
- Harmonizing the requirements with other standards in the U.S. and abroad.
Section 508 Refresh:
Section 508 of the the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ensures that websites, electronic documents, software, etc. used by federal agencies and/or its contractors are accessible to those with disabilities. The Section 508 Refresh has been created to accommodate the expanding digital market. The revisions to the Standards will impact how agencies design their websites; build software; provide internal government communications; and change how we procure IT hardware and software. The goals of the refresh include:
- Better Enable accessibility for those with disabilities
- Making requirements and standards easier to understand and follow
- Updating requirements and standards to keep up with changing technology
- Synchronize requirements with other standards domestically and internationally
Why is Section 508 important?
Although there are many US laws that implicitly outline equal opportunity regarding web accessibility, Section 508 is the first one to address the standards directly. This means lawmakers recognize the digital divide and are actively seeking to close it. It also provides a reference for companies not covered in Section 508 to what web accessibility standards will be when the highly anticipated legislation is passed. This allows companies to take a proactive approach in meeting the standards outlined by WCAG in protecting themselves, increase their market reach; and most importantly, provide equal opportunity to all!
How iAccessible can help?
At iAccessible, we are aware of the time and expenses associated with retrofitting a website to meet web accessibility standards, specifically those outlined in Section 508 and WCAG 2.1 AA. That’s why we created a tool that will automatically and routinely scan all your webpages. iAccessible will then report these violations to you a manner that allows you to easily locate and remediate reported violations. Through iAccessible, you will be able to save time and money while minimizing legal risks, all while supporting the greater cause of providing equal opportunity and web accessibility to all.