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Section 508 Standards
1194.22 Web-based Intranet and Internet information and applications

Section 508 Standard (a):

A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via "alt", "longdesc", or in element content)


  • Every image, Java applet, and plug-in has an alt tag
  • The alt tags adequately describe the purpose of the objects
  • Multimedia files have text transcripts and/or captions (see Standard B for related information)


  • One or more images, Java applets, Flash files, video files, or plug-ins have no alt tags
  • Decorative graphics have alt tags that say "spacer, "decorative graphic," or other titles that only increase the time that it takes to listen to a page when using a screen reader
  • Multimedia files do not have transcripts and/or captions


Section 508 Standard (b):

Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation

  • Multimedia files have synchronized captions
  • Multimedia files do not have captions, or captions which are not synchronized


Section 508 Standard (c):

Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup

  • If color is used to convey important information, an alternative indicator is used, such as an asterisk (*) or other symbol 
  • Color contrast is good
  • The use of a color monitor is required
  • Color contrast is poor


Section 508 Standard (d):

Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet

  • Headings are used to organize content. They are not used just for formatting effects
  • Style sheets are used for indentation and other formatting effects 
  • Tables are used sparingly, if at all, for formatting
  • Bold font, centering or other means are used to suggest headings
  • Headings are used just to achieve bold, centered text that is not truly a heading
  • Blockquote is used for indentation when the content is not a quote
  • Complex tables are used for layout that may be disorienting to someone listening to the page


Section 508 Standard (e):

Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map.

  • Not only are there "alt" tags for the hot spots, but there are separate text links somewhere else on the page with the same functionality 
  • The only way to access the links in an image map is through the image map hot spots


Section 508 Standard (f):

Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape

  • Standard HTML client-side image maps are used
  • Customized server-side image maps are used when a client-side version would suffice


Section 508 Standard (g):

Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables

  • Data tables have the column and row headers appropriately identified 
  • Tables used for layout do NOT have header rows or columns
  • The contents of the table makes sense when the content is removed from the table ("linearized"). You can verify this by using Lynx or an online Lynx emulator
  • There are no header rows or columns
  • Tables used for layout use the header attribute when there is no true header 
  • The contents of the table are confusing or misleading when taken out of their visual context


Section 508 Standard (h):

Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers.

  • Table cells are associated with the appropriate headers
  • There are no header rows or columns, or they are associated incorrectly


Section 508 Standard (i):

Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation.

  • Each frame is given a title that helps the user understand the frame's purpose
  • Frames have no titles


Section 508 Standard (j):

Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.

  • Flickering does not pose a threat of causing seizures
  • Flickering may cause seizures


Section 508 Standard (k):

A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes.

  • Alternative versions of pages provide the same functionality as the "main" versions
  • An alternative is provided when the main page requires the use of Java, Javascript, plug-ins or other features that the client must install and configure
  • No alternative is provided in circumstances where it is necessary 
  • Text-only pages are not up-to-date with the rest of the site


Section 508 Standard (l):

When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology.

  • All Javascript elements (e.g. pop-up menus) are inherently accessible to a screen reader, or a redundant text link is provided

(Note: Most DHTML is currently inaccessible to screen readers, especially when "onMouseover" commands are used, which make them inaccessible to keyboards.)

  • Javascript elements include graphics-as-text with no true text alternative
  • Javascripts only work with a mouse, and there is no keyboard-accessible alternative


Section 508 Standard (m):

When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with 1194.21(a) through (l).

  • All Java applets, scripts and plug-ins are accessible to adaptive technologies

(Note: when embedded into web pages, few of these technologies are accessible. Some of them are accessible as standalone products. RealPlayer is an example. It is better to invoke the whole program rather than embed movies into pages at this point, although this may change in the future.) 

  • All PDF files have HTML or text alternatives

(Note: Adobe is developing a more accessible Acrobat Reader in the future, but it is not yet available)

  • Plug-ins, scripts and other elements are used indiscriminately, without alternatives for those who cannot access them
  • PDF files that have no alternatives


Section 508 Standard (n):

When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues.

  • All form controls have text labels adjacent to them
  • Forms elements have labels associated with them in the markup
  • Form controls have no labels, or the labels are not adjacent to the controls
  • There is no linking of the form element and its label in the HTML


Section 508 Standard (o):

A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.

  • A link is provided to skip over lists of navigational menus or other lengthy lists of links
  • There is no way to skip over lists of links


Section 508 Standard (p):

When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.

  • The user has control over the content-changes
  • The user is required to react quickly, within limited time restraints

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