United States government have always been making amendments to different laws for its citizens to ensure that every individual in the country is treated equally and gets justice at every point. These individuals in the previous line include normal individuals as well as individuals with a disability.
To ensure a better life and accessibility for individuals with a disability, Section 508 was brought into practice by the United States Government in 1986 when it was added as a part of the Rehabilitation act of 1973. Later when the Rehabilitation act of 1973 was added to Workforce Investment act in 1996 by the signature of President Clinton and section 508 was further strengthened with enforcement.
So, what is Section 508? What does it say? Who needs to comply? What will happen if compliance is not met? Let us get the answers to these questions one by one.
What is Section 508?
Section 508 is an amendment in the Rehabilitation Act 1973, which says that all the electronic and Information technology developed, maintained and regulated by Federal agencies, must be accessible and usable to individuals with a disability. This section also covers the third party and contractors, who have business terms with federal agencies. All the federal agencies who either create, maintain, procure or regulate, must comply with Section 508.
Revamped versions of Section 508
There have been many revisions in section 508 by Federal Government since 1986. Let us quickly put the revisions in brief to see the changes:
1986: Establishing guidelines regarding the compliance
1998: Enforcement of compliance by inculcation in WIA to strengthen
2017: Addition of procedure, checklist, and rules to abide by the compliance
Moving on to the next section about who is covered in this, let us see.
Who needs to comply?
As mentioned above, all the federal agencies who communicate with people, who produce, manufacture, procure, develop or maintain electronic and IT solutions, are covered under this compliance. There have been standards defined under the sections which are regularly updated. These standards are finalized and released by Access Board. Within a time frame of 6 months after finalization, federal agencies need to ensure that they abide by the rules, procedures, and standards mentioned in the section. Otherwise, there can be serious consequences to the agencies.
There are federal agencies who in order to be Section 508 compliant, modify their digital content, websites, and documents for accessibility, but many make a mistake to do it by themselves, considering it as an easy task to do. Believing blindly on the software or checklist will only lead to error in the compliance. It is always better to get in touch with an expert who can provide better solutions. An expert will help you to do an analysis of your current digital data, search for loopholes and obstacles and then guide you to remove those obstacles or fill those loopholes. This is the best method that all federal agencies must adopt since the beginning so that they can always be compliant without any extra efforts or investments just for the compliance.