Section 508, part of the Rehabilitation Act, applies to the accessibility of electronic information technologies (EIT). It pertains specifically to EIT utilized or managed by federal organizations. Simply put, compliant websites or applications will provide users and employees who have a disability with all of the same information and access as users and employees who do not have a disability. If this is not possible for the website or application in question, an accessible alternative with the same information and access must be provided.
Detailed standards are provided for a variety of use cases. These use cases appear as: Software Applications and Operating Systems, Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications, Telecommunications Products, Video and Multimedia Products, Self Contained Closed Products, and Desktop and Portable Computers. The official Section 508 website provides a variety of resources for testing against these standards and learning more about them. They also provide resources for connecting with accessibility consulting firms that can help ensure compliance.
Does Section 508 Apply to Your Business?
As mentioned before, Section 508 pertains to any EIT managed by or utilized by a federal agency. This means that if your business works with any federal agency—or would like to work with one in the future—your EIT will need to comply with the guidelines of Section 508. Fortunately, many of these guidelines are covered by other standards that your business’s EIT should already adhere to. If you aren’t sure where to begin with accessibility compliance, it’s always a good idea to contact an accessibility expert or accessibility consulting firm.