Section 508 Compliance

Federal agencies, private entities that receive public funding and Independent Software Vendors are required by law to make Information and Communication Technology (ICT) accessible.

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What Is Section 508?

Section 508 ensures web accessibility within federal services, both at an internal level for employees of federal agencies or services, as well as the public who may also access federal services online. Organizations that receive federal funding are exempt from 508 compliance.

The history of Section 508 stretches back to 1986 when Section 508 was added as an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In 1998, Section 508 was amended to include standards to make information technology accessible.

As technology has progressed, Section 508 guidance received a further update in 2016.

It is this most recent update that U.S Government websites at all levels (federal, state, and local) are required to comply with.

Section 508 Compliance Requirements

Section 508 requirements have been determined through the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA. This means that for an applicable federal resource to be Section 508 compliant, it must meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines.

The guidelines consider all adjustments needed to ensure digital content or technology is accessible. It factors in assistive technology that may be used to access the web including screen readers and magnifiers.

The revised 508 Standards Applicability Checklist covers around 100 individual items. These relate to aspects such as hardware standards, functional performance requirements, electronic content standards, and more.

Section 508 compliance must be considered throughout the lifecycle of a website or piece of digital content. This includes during the design and planning stages, as well as during any future upgrades, changes or site migrations.

As with all other types of web accessibility laws and standards, expert knowledge of web design and development, along with the challenges disabled users face when accessing the web is required to ensure Section 508 compliance.

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