What Is 508 Compliance And How Do You Make A Website Accessible?

What Is Section 508 Compliance?

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires the federal government to acquire, develop, use, and maintain accessible information and communication technology (ICT) for people with disabilities, regardless of whether they work for the federal government.

Section 508 compliance thus relates to the ecosystem of processes and actions aimed at ensuring that the federal government’s ICT purchased, developed, utilized, and maintained is accessible to people with disabilities, regardless of whether they work for the federal government.

These processes and actions include those carried out by federal contracting officials as well as those carried out by manufacturers or vendors of ICT products and services available to federal organizations.

For federal contracting officials, Section 508 compliance processes and activities include making an up-to-date Section 508 compliance checklist available to manufacturers and vendors of ICT products and services so that they can execute Section 508 compliance testing on their products or services.

Federal contracting officials should also conduct market research on accessible ICT products and services, as well as review the accessible VPAT accessibility conformance reports (ACRs) for the ICT products and services they want to procure, create, use, or maintain, to determine which have the most accessibility features based on the Section 508 checklist.

Section 508 compliance for makers and vendors of ICT products and services entails comprehending the Section 508 compliance checklist and incorporating the defined accessibility criteria into your ICT product or service during the design and development stages.

It also implies that, once the ICT products or services have been designed and developed, you utilize the VPAT 2.4 Rev 508 edition of the VPAT template to assess the product’s or service’s compatibility with the Section 508 Accessibility Standard and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. The additional components of Section 508 compliance that a manufacturer, vendor, or provider of ICT products or services is intended to ensure are accurately and thoroughly filling out the VPAT template and making the VPAT report accessible. In the case of website compliance with the Section 508 compliance checklist, a VPAT statement describing the accessibility of the website should be displayed on the site.

Making A Website Accessible

Any of the four VPAT 2.4 editions—VPAT 2.4 Rev 508, VPAT 2.4 Rev EU, VPAT 2.4 Rev WCAG 2.0/2.1, or VPAT 2.4 INT—can adequately help a website developer in creating an accessible website. This is because all of these VPAT template versions include WCAG.

The best strategy to accomplish WCAG compliance is to establish and plan for the level of conformity you desire for your website. You must select whether to hire a third-party specialist to perform it from start to finish (which is highly advised owing to the objectivity it provides to the entire process) or to do it internally.

Whatever decision you make, there are three levels of accessibility you can aim for for your website: A, the lowest accessibility level; AA, the medium accessibility level that includes A and AA and is the most commonly used; and AAA, the highest accessibility level that includes A, AA, and AAA and is not always achieved.

You make you website level A-accessible by ensuring that:

  • All non-text content has text alternatives;
  • Alternatives are provided to video-only and audio-only content; and
  • Captions are provided for videos with audio.

You make you website level AA-accessible by ensuring that:

  • All live videos have captions;
  • Users have access to audio descriptions for video content;
  • The website has minimum contrast ratio between text and background of at least 4:5:1.

You make you website level AAA-accessible by ensuring that:

  • Sign language transcriptions are provided for all videos;
  • Text alternatives are provided to videos; and
  • Test alternatives are provided to videos.

Need Help With Section 508 Compliance And Making Your Website Accessible?

You can get help with Section 508 compliance as well as making your website accessible.Use thisfree Section 508 compliance checker to see how accessible your website is, or call (626) 486-2201 for assistance with any other type of Section 508 compliance inquiry you have. Consultations are always free!

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