Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
Section 508 requires all federal agencies to make their electronic and information technologies accessible to people with disabilities. In practice, this means that the content on your websites should be provided in a way that is accessible to all of your visitors, no matter how they access your site.
Why Section 508 is Important
Section 508 is the law. All federal sites must be compliant.
Section 508 requires the information in visual products (such as images as videos) be provided in a way that the blind and colorblind can read it. It ensures that any information provided in audio—like videos and audio files—are available to the deaf and hard of hearing. It ensures that users who have physical disabilities or who don't use hardware—like a mouse or keyboard—can still reach all of the content on your site. It also requires you to avoid posting, for example, graphics with refresh rates that could cause seizures in your users.
In short, Section 508 requires that your content be available to all U.S. citizens.
How do you meet Section 508?
Some of the most common tasks related to Section 508 are:
- Writing alt text for images
- Writing text versions for videos and animations
- Adding captions to videos
- Following the graphic guidelines for color contrast and image refresh rates
- Developing web applications so they can be used without a mouse
Know what you will need to do to meet Section 508 before you start work on your project. It's easy to make an accessible product if you work accessibility into your normal planning, design, and coding schedule.
All websites are expected to meet Section 508. You will be expected to correct websites that do not. Sites should be compliant when you bring them to the Project Review Team to send the site live.