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Section 508

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In 1998 the US Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual's ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology.

 

1.
#29731

508 for Dummies  (link broken)   (PDF)

A talk with Gloria Reece, a senior member of STC's AccessAbility SIG who can help demystify Section 508. Get practical advice for implementing the law in your workplace without tearing apart existing products and starting from scratch. Section 508 for Dummies will introduce you to the basics of the regulation using models and scenarios.

Reece, Gloria A. STC Proceedings (2004). Articles>Accessibility>Standards>Section 508

2.
#27300

Accessibility

Since the discourse over creating accessible Web pages began, the standards organizations that helped inform the new Federal rules have stressed the separation of design and content. If the Internet is to reach its full potential, content will need to be authored so that it can be rendered by a broad array of devices: browsers, assistive technologies, PDAs, and devices that have yet to be imagined. Only by separating content from design will this be possible. By following the rules in Section 508, you will be doing more than providing access for those with disabilities; you will be creating content that is available to all users, no matter what devices are used to read it.

Apple Inc. (2006). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508

3.
#28329

Accessibility   (PDF)

Web sites should be designed to ensure that everyone, including users who have difficulty seeing, hearing, and making precise movements, can use them. Generally, this means ensuring that Web sites facilitate the use of common assistive technologies. All United States Federal Government Web sites must comply with the Section 508 Federal Accessibility Standards.

Usability.gov (2006). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508

4.
#26089

Accessibility and Section 508  (link broken)

Over the last couple of years the electronic and IT industry have had to start seriously considering the accessibility of their products and services. This is due to recent developments regarding Federal legislation, specifically Section 508. This article provides an overview of the legislation and includes a case study showing how a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template is applied in practice.

System Concepts (2005). Articles>Accessibility>Standards>Section 508

5.
#18799

ADA-508 Compliance and Usability Testing Techniques for Accessible Web Pages  (link broken)   (PDF)

This scenario–based progression session will introduce basic usability testing concepts for developing accessible web pages, raise awareness of the need to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Section 508, and provide resources for further investigation. Emphasis will be given to interactive discussion that centers on requirements analysis for accessible design.

Reece, Gloria A. STC Proceedings (2002). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508

6.
#19184

Applied Theory: Working Toward an Accessible Web Site

With the passage of Section 508 and the efforts of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), interest in Web site accessibility continues to increase. Web designers and Web content developers are finding that knowledge in Web accessibility is becoming essential to be marketable to government contracts and private industry since accessibility is becoming a best practice, and in some cases a legal requirement, in Web development. This article is written for those who already have a general knowledge about the reasons for, and the techniques of, designing accessible Web sites. In this article, I will share the steps that I have taken to work toward transforming a Web site that I manage to one that is accessible according to the W3C recommendations.

McConnell, Kim. Usability Interface (2003). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508

7.
#23353

The Blind Leading the Blind: Theorizing a Web for the Visually Impaired  (link broken)   (PDF)

An examination of government websites (those required to adhere to Section 508) revealed no common practices or themes.

Moore, Jessica and Joseph Matthews. IAsummit (2004). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508

8.
#20656

Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards (Section 508)

The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) is issuing final accessibility standards for electronic and information technology covered by section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. Section 508 requires the Access Board to publish standards setting forth a definition of electronic and information technology and the technical and functional performance criteria necessary for such technology to comply with section 508. Section 508 requires that when Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, they shall ensure that the electronic and information technology allows Federal employees with disabilities to have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access to and use of information and data by Federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. Section 508 also requires that individuals with disabilities, who are members of the public seeking information or services from a Federal agency, have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to the public who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency.

Access Board, The (2000). Resources>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508

9.
#20655

Federal Accessibility Standards for Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications (Section 508)  (link broken)

The criteria for web-based technology and information are based on access guidelines developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium. Many of these provisions ensure access for people with vision impairments who rely on various assistive products to access computer-based information, such as screen readers, which translate what's on a computer screen into automated audible output, and refreshable Braille displays. Certain conventions, such as verbal tags or identification of graphics and format devices, like frames, are necessary so that these devices can 'read' them for the user in a sensible way. The standards do not prohibit the use of web site graphics or animation. Instead, the standards aim to ensure that such information is also available in an accessible format. Generally, this means use of text labels or descriptors for graphics and certain format elements. (HTML code already provides an 'Alt Text' tag for graphics which can serve as a verbal descriptor for graphics). This section also addresses the usability of multimedia presentations, image maps, style sheets, scripting languages, applets and plug-ins, and electronic forms. The standards apply to Federal web sites but not to private sector web sites (unless a site is provided under contract to a Federal agency, in which case only that web site or portion covered by the contract would have to comply). Accessible sites offer significant advantages that go beyond access. For example, those with 'text-only' options provide a faster downloading alternative and can facilitate transmission of web-based data to cell phones and personal digital assistants.

Usability.gov. Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508

10.
#23540

Hermish

A free online tool to analyze the accessibility of websites. With Hermish, make your pages comply to accessibility guidelines. Accessibility relates to section 508 and priority levels.

Slinn, Gareth. Hermish (2004). Resources>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508

11.
#14861

How To Make PDFs Compliant With Section 508   (PDF)

First, if you don't produce forms for federal government, it is wasted time, but there is information available. Adobe has the accessibility section on its Web site with useful documentation. There are other Web sites about accessibility in general on all the federal government sites, and finally, there are further links from there. Also, if you are providing forms for a federal government agency, you should get in touch with their 'Section 508 representative,' who will give you guidelines for that agency's way to implement it.

Wyss, Max. PDFzone (2000). Design>Accessibility>Adobe Acrobat>Section 508

12.
#18569

Imagine: You Complete Your Site and Then Discover...You Forgot Accessibility

It’s taken awhile, but webmasters are starting to get the hang of designing Web sites that work for most users. But don’t rest yet: webmasters will soon need to add a completely new set of Web design skills. Increasingly, Web sites will have to accommodate disabled users. Disabled users? That’s right. Even people with no sight at all can “hear” the Web, through special browsers that read out the code on Web pages. New US regulations require that all Federal sites (and the sites of Federal contractors) work in this format. Other countries are adopting similar rules, and non-government sites are increasingly coming under pressure from users to offer options for the disabled.

Sherman, Bernard and Terence de Giere. Everyone.net (2002). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508

13.
#13709

Intranet Accessibility and Section 508

A compelling reason to make your Intranet accessible to people with disabilities is because itï¿s the law. Section 508 of the United Statesï¿ Rehabilitation Act of 1972 requires that Federal agenciesï¿ electronic and information technology (EIT) be accessible to people with disabilities (vision, hearing, mobility) if the EIT is procured on or after June 21, 2001. If you develop hardware, software, Internet, or Intranet solutions for the U.S. Government, either as an employee of the U.S. Government or as a service or product provider, the procurement date is a critical factor in determining functional requirements of your Intranet.

Bine, Katharyn. Usability Interface (2002). Design>Accessibility>Web Design>Section 508

14.
#14886

Making Do

Both Congress and the Bush administration have made more accessible Web sites a core mandate of e-government. The law known as Section 508 requires agencies to make information technology, including Web sites, accessible to people with disabilities. It forced many Webmasters to think seriously about Web design and usability for the first time. But talking about usability and making sure it happens are two different things. Usability means more than coming up with a good site design. It requires follow-through, and that's where many agencies — short-staffed and with little time or money for training — often come up short.

Robinson, Brian. Federal Computer Week (2002). Articles>Usability>Web Design>Section 508

15.
#30557

One Reason Why Section 508 Isn't Working

The article underscores one of the key weaknesses in Section 508 today: the lack of self-regulation and commitment to Section 508 by federal agencies. Since Section 508 was released in June 2001, the primary enforcement focus has been on industry's role and responsibility. The pervasive thinking was that compliance could be better achieved by ensuring that industry designed, developed, and delivered accessible electronic and information technology for agency procurement. And there seems to be merit to this way of thinking. But if federal contracting and procurement officers do not include the 508 requirements as part of their procurement request documentation, industry has no motivation to invest money and resources required to enhance their products for accessibility.

Paciello, Mike. Paciello Group, The (2007). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508

16.
#22300

PDF Can Comply With Section 508. Now It's Your Move

A blind person cannot read from a screen any more than from a printed page. Technologies nonetheless exist that allow blind and other disabled users impressively full-featured access to documents. To be accessible, however, the document contents must be available to these so-called 'assistive' technologies.

Johnson, Duff. PlanetPDF (2003). Articles>Accessibility>Adobe Acrobat>Section 508

17.
#29872

PDFs and Section 508: Compliance, Accessibility, and Usability   (PDF)

This paper addresses limitations and problematic issues of usability and accessibility involved in the creation and use of Adobe Acrobat PDF files for people with visual impairments who use screen readers as an assistive device. In some cases, due to technological limitations, PDF documents can present information incorrectly to such persons. A document which is accessibility compliant may then not be fully usable by individuals with visual impairments. The lack of specific guidelines for accessible PDF documents complicates the issue, though a series of W3C PDF Checkpoints provides some guidance. Problematic issues discussed include footnotes, special characters and formats, acronyms and abbreviations, and tables.

Dolin, Samantha and Jane L. Willig. STC Proceedings (2004). Articles>Accessibility>Adobe Acrobat>Section 508

18.
#20658

Section 508 Checklist

The following standards are excerpted from Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, §1194.22. Everything in the left hand column is a direct quote from Section 508. The other two columns are only meant to serve as helpful guidelines to comply with Section 508.

WebAIM (2001). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508

19.
#19185

Section 508 from the Hearing Loss Perspective

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended in 1998, requires federal departments and agencies, including the United States Postal Service, to comply with accessibility requirements when procuring, developing, using or maintaining electronic and information technology (E&IT), unless doing so causes an undue burden (significant difficulty or expense). E&IT with accessibility requirements pertinent to people with hearing disabilities include: telephones; televisions; videotapes and DVDs; multimedia web sites; interactive voice response systems, and information kiosks. Where steps and physical barriers kept people with physical disabilities out of the workforce and out of government buildings three decades ago, videos and web pages without captioning; telephones without amplification; interactive voice response systems that do not support TTY signals; phone configurations that do not support VCO (voice carry over); and phone systems with no TTY jacks are examples of barriers today. Congress identified the federal government as the proper place to begin tackling these problems. Through the Section 508 amendment, the federal government has been given the responsibility to set an example for the rest of the country by being a model employer and providing exemplary service to its customers with disabilities by showing that access can be achieved in a reasonable way and that information technology access will benefit all people. The Section 508 statute directed the U.S. Access Board to develop access standards for this technology. The process began with a report presented to the board by an advisory committee it convened and ended with the 508 Standards being incorporated in their entirety into the federal procurement regulations.

Baquis, David. Usability Interface (2003). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508

20.
#19646

Section 508 Templates

A website containing templates for producing accessible design using Adobe software products. These documents detail the accessibility features of Adobe products in the context of U.S. government regulations as contained in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Adobe. Design>Accessibility>Software>Section 508

21.
#20705

Section 508 Web Accessibility Now a Federal Law!

Web design at Federal departments and agencies just got orders of magnitude more complex. In 1998, President Clinton signed into law Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The law, aimed at making government technology accessible to 120,000 disabled federal employees and 50 million other disabled Americans, went into effect June 21, 2001. Unlike the OSHA Ergonomic Program that was universally reviled by the Republican Administration and was immediately repealed upon President Bush taking office, Section 508 has been widely endorsed by President Bush and his Cabinet. This rule is here to stay. Commended by disability groups throughout the nation, Section 508 is an important step in making technology accessible to everyone. With hundreds of government agencies rethinking their technology investments, the effects of Section 508 will be felt throughout the public and private sectors. Section 508 marks the beginning of a new era in technology development. For the first time disabled employees and users of government-sponsored technology are in the driver's seat. And the controls they need are no small matter.

Mauro, Charles L. TaskZ (2001). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508

22.
#21384

Section 508, Documentation and the US Software Market

This article outlines how you can ensure that your software documentation conforms to the new accessibility legislation in the US.

Unwalla, Mike. TechScribe (2003). Articles>Documentation>Accessibility>Section 508

23.
#20657

Section508.gov

Section 508 requires that Federal agencies' electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities. The Center for Information Technology Accommodation (CITA), in the U.S. General Services Administration's Office of Governmentwide Policy, has been charged with the task of educating Federal employees and building the infrastructure necessary to support Section 508 implementation. Using this web site, Federal employees and the public can access resources for understanding and implementing the requirements of Section 508.

Section508.gov. Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508

24.
#23164

Side-by-Side Comparison of Section 508 and WCAG

The differences between the Section 508 accessibility guidelines and the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Thatcher, Jim. JimThatcher.com (2004). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508

25.
#23778

Traveling Route 508: A One-Way Street to Universal Accessibility   (PDF)

'Accessible' is a higher standard than 'Section 508-compliant.' Identifying the design principles for accessible web page design, and which of those principles are required under Section 508, is a useful approach to the issue for any organization that must comply with the Section 508 standards. The legislation has no standards for determining whether your web site complies with Section 508. Possible processes include: evaluating the site using a text-to-speech application; evaluating the site using validation software; and usability testing.

Bine, Katharyn and Gloria A. Reece. STC Proceedings (2003). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508

 
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