In this video and post, we'll provide a clear understanding of what the 508 standard is, what the refresh involves, who needs to be compliant, how to ensure website 508 compliance, and more.
What is Website 508 Compliance?
Section 508 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and it requires that all federal agencies create web content that's accessible and usable for all employees and the public that have disabilities. It's been through many refreshes over the years to attempt to be more in line with technology advancements, like websites and apps, and has recently gone through another refresh.
Revised 508 Standards
Because modern technology is constantly changing, a final rule was published by the Access Board to update standards for information and communication technology that's covered by Section 508. The refresh is currently in effect and was just modified on March 23, 2018. It brings US standards to be in line with international standards and makes technology more accessible to all users. The revisions include:
- focus on functionality
- industry alignment
- content accessibility
- synchronized tool and text
- expanded marketplace
Even if your organization isn't a federal agency, it doesn't mean you're completely safe. Some sites may be required to be accessible through state laws, institutional laws, grant requirements, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (including agencies that receive federal funding or assistance). The refresh and other requirements are meant to better connect accessibility with modern technology.
Who should meet the revised standards?
Even if your organization isn't legally required to meet certain standards, it's still a best practice and creates equal opportunity for all users to access your goods and services. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines are a great place to start in making your website accessible. The Department of Justice considered using WCAG 2.0 level AA as a standard across the board for websites and web content, but in a call to the DOJ a few weeks ago, they stated that there wasn't a current standard and there weren't any plans for one in the near future.
If your organization isn't a federal agency, it doesn't mean you're completely safe. Some sites may be required to be accessible through state laws, institutional laws, grant requirements, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (including agencies that receive federal funding or assistance). The refresh and other requirements are meant to better connect accessibility with modern technology.
In Conclusion: Maintaining 508 Compliance Going Forward
It's much easier to build a website with 508 compliance than it is to keep it compliant. If you're an organization that has different people updating your website, they should at least go through a brief primer or a course on 508 compliance. Otherwise, some strict governance around your website management is recommended to make sure your 508 compliance doesn't get invalidated. Something as simple as updating a graphic or adding an image into a website and forgetting to put in something simple like an alt tag would negate your 508 compliance.
If you have questions regarding your organization and compliance, feel free to get in touch.
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If you'd like to learn more about compliance and the WCAG 2.0 guidelines, check out the article below.
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