Introducing Section 508

Note on This Recording

Thanks to technical difficulties, this episode was recorded from the live version of the podcast played on ACB Community. So, it could not be edited to the usual standards of the episodes presented here. Still, the information is accurate and useful.


Section 508

Here are a few things in Section 508 that should be kept in mind..

  • Section 508 applies to information and communication technology (ICT) procured, maintained, developed, or used by federal agencies covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1934 as implemented by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
  • When Section 508 is updated, the law mandates the updated or revised standards be incorporated in procurement processes within six months of adoption.
  • Section 508 applies to covered hardware, software, electronic content, and support documentation.
  • Under Section 508, all covered web and non-web content and software—including websites, intranets, Word documents, PDFs, and project management software is largely required to conform to WCAG 2.0 levels A and AA.
  • Section 508 covers all external content and the following nine categories of internal content:
    • emergency notifications
    • decisions related to administrative claims or proceedings
    • an internal or external program or policy announcement
    • a notice of benefits, program eligibility, employment opportunity, or personnel action
    • a formal acknowledgement of receipt
    • survey questionnaires
    • a template or form
    • educational or training materials
    • or intranet content designed as a web page.
  • Agencies had one year from adoption of the revised standards to comply.
  • A safe harbor provision means that ICT that complied with the previous version of Section 508 guidelines complies with the existing version of Section 508 unless the ICT is altered. Alterations are considered on an element-by-element basis to determine whether an alteration triggers a need to comply with the revised Section 508 guidelines.
  • Where ICT conforming to one or more of the Section 508 standards is not commercially available, the agency shall procure the ICT that best meets the revised 508 standards consistent with the agency’s business needs.
  • The responsible agency official shall document in writing: (a) the non-availability of conforming ICT, including a description of market research performed and which provisions cannot be met, and (b) the basis for determining that the ICT to be procured best meets the requirements in the Revised 508 Standards consistent with the agency’s business needs.
  • Where ICT that fully conforms to the Revised 508 Standards is not commercially available, the agency shall provide individuals with disabilities access to and use of information and data by an alternative means that meets identified needs.
  • Non-Web documents do not have to comply with the following four WCAG success criteria. : Bypass Blocks; Multiple Ways; Consistent Navigation; and Consistent Identification.

Exceptions Under Section 508

Section E202 of Section 508 lists the five general exceptions to section 508:

  • Legacy ICT
  • National security systems
  • Federal contracts
  • ICT functions located in maintenance or monitoring spaces

The Section 508 website has information about the five general exceptions plus the best meets exception and the undue burden or fundamental alteration defenses to compliance.

I would appreciate hearing from you. This is our website!