Section 508 Overview:The US Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was created to provide protection against discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by federal agencies. This Act included multiple sections. Section 501 laid the groundwork for protection against employment discrimination for qualified individuals with disabilities. Section 504 provided protections against discrimination for applicants and employees with disabilities and requires affirmative steps to hire, retain and promote qualified individuals with disabilities. Section 508 was added in 1998 to provide protection against discrimination in digital environments.
What Does 508 Compliance Cover?The Rehabilitation Act was amended in 1998 with the addition of Section 508. This new section covered all information technology, including computer hardware, software, and documentation. This amendment also introduced law enforcement measures to mandate 508 compliance for websites, documents, and applications developed with US Federal funding or for US government agencies.
508 Compliance Requirements508 compliance became a necessity for many organizations. In May of 1999, the W3C became the authoritative source on how to comply by developing the first set of digital accessibility standards, called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). There are multiple degrees of compliance success criteria ranging from A to AAA (A being the most lenient, AAA the most strict). Determining which level of success criteria you need to achieve depends on various factors. and recommend speaking with an expert to help you establish your requirements and roadmap to success.
Who needs to follow these requirements?U.S. government departments that have websites, applications, and other digital content or systems developed using US Federal funds must comply with Section 508. This includes many organizations such as higher education organizations (colleges and universities) and government contractors (defense, healthcare, financial).
How to determine complianceAutomated accessibility testing tools can scan your domain or digital content for WCAG errors and alerts (which can help with determining your organization’s level of 508 compliance). TPG’s ARC Monitoring performs an automated scan on a regular interval and tracks performance over time through a WCAG Density Score that represents a ratio of errors to pages scanned.
This provides accessibility program managers with a method to set an initial benchmark score and track improvements based on WCAG success criteria. Getting your WCAG density score and free initial domain analysis is one of the best starting points for any accessibility program. Learn how the TPG ARC platform works below.
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