What Is Section 508?
Section 508 is an amendment of the US Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973 passed into law in 1998, that mandates Federal agencies of the United States to make accessible their electronic and information technology to persons with disabilities. It covers technologies developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government. The law deems that technologies should be available to those with disabilities as they were with those without.
So, what are the recent changes?
The law was refreshed in 2017 to update the accessibility guidelines and requirements for information and communication technology to better reflect recent communication technology innovations and align with them. There are several laws related to Section 508, the most relevant of them is the ADA.
Who should be compliant with Section 508?
Section 508 doesn’t cover the private sector or those private entities that receive federal funding.
It applies only to federal agencies and those that do business with federal agencies. Examples of these are private contractors, the financial industry, healthcare industry, legal organizations, and others. The federal government is huge in its buying power and should be able to encourage the development of products and services that are web-based that can be accessible to persons with or without disabilities.
How can a product or web service be compliant with Section 508?
The creator of the website should post a VPAT or Voluntary Product Accessibility Template on its website describing how their product or service meet Section 508 standards. It informs federal agencies and consumers that they have access to the information.
What documents can be Section 508 compliant?
A company under the jurisdiction of Section 508 must have all its digital communications accessible to persons with disabilities, which includes website content, emails, computer software, gaming systems, applications, and PDF versions of traditionally printed assets.