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Section 508 is an update to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which required that all programs, activities, and content of federal agencies be accessible to people with disabilities. Signed in 1998 by US President Bill Clinton, Section 508 added information technology and electronic communications such as websites to these requirements. Whether you’re specifically working on 508 compliance or not, companies love it accessible offer a set of solutions to help you achieve greater web accessibility.
What is Section 508 Compliance?
What Section 508 Means: All websites, web resources, and information technology processes operated by US federal agencies and departments must meet web accessibility standards and ensure that their communications are accessible to people with disability
Who is affected by Section 508: All federal agencies and departments must comply with Section 508. These agencies must complete periodic reports to the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Service Administration general (GSA) to ensure continued compliance.
What are the requirements for compliance with Section 508?
Section 508 requires broad accessibility considerations in several areas, including:
- Content creation;
- Design and development;
- Website testing;
- Training, policy and management;
- Purchase and purchase of accessible products and services.
Regarding the creation of web content, compliance with Section 508 follows the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, with the same expectations that all copy, design and user experiences are perceptible, operable, understandable and robust. Because WCAG 2.1 is the current standard, federal agencies can choose to align with it if they prefer; compliance with 2.1 also ensures compliance with 2.0.
To ensure 508 compliance, federal agencies must test their websites through one of three means:
- Automated testing, using software tools that scan and evaluate web content;
- Manual testing, with web content professionals or potential users repeatedly testing the site themselves with a consistent process;
- Hybrid testing, which is a combination of automated and manual testing.
Federal agencies may also participate in the Interagency Trust Verification Programwhich promotes consistent and cost-effective testing methods to increase accuracy and reduce agency expenses.
What are the benefits of Section 508 compliance?
Complying with Section 508 is not just a matter of federal law. As with web accessibility in general, it comes with many other benefits, including:
- Robust, well-developed websites that run faster and are less prone to errors and crashes;
- Consistent, logical and easy-to-navigate user experiences;
- Copy on the page that is clear, direct and easy to understand for all reading levels;
- Assets and rich media that everyone can use, thanks to alt text and metadata.
It also ensures that digital content is available to a much wider audience, so the federal government can provide critical products and services to all residents, whether they are disabled or not.
Compliance with Section 508 is a crucial law for all federal government departments and agencies, requiring them to provide accessible websites and digital experiences for all users, in accordance with WCAG 2.0. While most other organizations don’t need to worry about the specific requirements of 508, they should still follow current web accessibility standards for their benefit and that of their customers.
Ikaroa is committed to providing the highest quality digital content for all users, including those with disabilities. As such, we ensure all of our digital content is Section 508 compliant. Section 508 is a federal law that requires electronic communications to be accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 compliance benefits all users as it ensures that digital content can be accessed, operated, and understood by everyone.
To be fully compliant, websites and applications must adhere to standards developed by the US Access Board and guidelines set forth by the US Department of Justice, such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These standards provide guidance on how to make the web more accessible and usable for people with disabilities, including color contrast, page navigation, font sizes, and more.
Ikaroa takes pride in employing a detailed process to ensure our digital content is compliant. We start by performing an accessibility audit which is a comprehensive review of a website to check for accessibility issues. The audit considers all elements of the webpages, including text, images, multimedia, and code, and tests for issues such as contrast and font sizes. Once the audit is complete, we make necessary changes and retest the website until it meets all the requirements.
At Ikaroa, we understand the importance of Section 508 compliance and strive to ensure that all users, including those with disabilities, can easily and effectively access our website and applications. We recognize that complying with accessibility regulations is an ongoing process and continue to review and update our digital content. We believe that fully compliant content can help businesses understand the needs of all their users and create a more inclusive atmosphere. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality content, ensuring that all users can enjoy the same experience.