Rehabilitation Act of 1973
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is the federal departments guidance for accessibility issues.
Section 508 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which requires that electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the Federal government be accessible to people with disabilities. On August 7, 1998, the President signed into law the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which includes the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. Section 508 was originally added to the Rehabilitation Act in 1986; the 1998 amendments significantly expand and strengthen the technology access requirements in Section 508.
To whom does Section 508 apply?
Section 508 applies to federal agencies and departments. None of the Section 508 guidelines apply to private sector.
What does Section 508 require of Federal agencies and departments?
Section 508 requires that when Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, they must ensure that it is accessible to people with disabilities, unless it would pose an undue burden to do so. Federal employees and members of the public who have disabilities must have access to and use of information and services that is comparable to the access and use available to non-disabled Federal employees and members of the public.
What does "electronic and information technology" mean to us?
Software applications and operating systems
Web-based information or applications
Video and multimedia products
Self contained, closed products (e.g., information kiosks, calculators, and fax machines)
Desktop and portable computers
Does Section 508 apply to Web sites of federal agencies?
Yes - federal agencies which provide information to the public or to their employees through Web sites must ensure that such sites are available to all persons with Internet or Intranet access, including persons with disabilities.
What is the timeline for Section 508?
The final standards for Section 508 were published Dec 21, 2000.
New pages created after June 21, 2001 must meet Section 508 standards.
Guidance on page modification after June 21 is being developed.
Begin now by becoming aware of accessibility issues and make all web pages compliant with Section 508!