Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires federal agencies to make their technology accessible to people with disabilities.
And that applies to whether they’re- they work for the federal government or not.
So, specifically, Section 508 requires federal agencies to develop, procure, maintain, and use information and communications technology (ICT) that is accessible to people with disabilities.
And the US Access Board is who establishes the standards that are implemented and incorporated into the law and so they have-
The Access Board in effect provides the requirements for accessibility.
So not only is the federal government involved but private entities can be involved too. I mentioned procure, we’ll come back to that in a second.
So Section 508 requires federal agencies to make their ICT accessible, well what is ICT?
Well it can include telephones, smartphones, mobile devices, TVs, DVD players, Internet and intranet website, PDF documents, online training, webinars, teleconferencing, and so on.
But I wanted to cover those bullets specifically because they involve a lot of the technology that is used on a regular basis and that private organizations use and that ultimately becomes a part of the procurement process.
So one excerpt in particular says, Section 508 requires that federal government the federal government procure create use and maintain ICT that is accessible to people with disabilities.
And the ICT solution selected must meet the requirements of a well-defined business which includes being accessible to federal employees and members of the public who need to access information and services.
So that’s important because it says, who need to access information and services.
So if you are a vendor and you are trying to win over a contract you’re- of course the product that you’re providing needs to be accessible, but if your website is implicated in any way in the use of the product then that website is going to fall- likely fall under the ICT requirement and need to be accessible.
So notably Section 508 had a refresh where it incorporated the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, WCAG 2.0 AA.
So that’s a technical standard for website accessibility and web content.
But 508 now has applied specific success criterion or success criteria of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to different technologies.
So beyond websites and intranets, you’ll see word documents, PDF documents- let’s see what else I put in my notes – software, and other technology.
They also have to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, but if you go to the Access Board’s website that’s where you will see how and where the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines- the principles found they’re in how they apply to different technologies because there are exceptions.
But generally exceptions- but generally your product, possibly your service needs to incorporate those principles that are found in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
And the US Access Board has a long page on this.
But generally, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are generally applicable- are broadly applicable I should say, and so if you are a private and you are contracting or attempting to win a contract with the federal government, you are going to make, need- to make sure that your product or service is accessible.
And in that there might be requirements for your website and or other technology that you use.
And so I’ve done another video about this whether VPATs or Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates apply to websites and the conclusion I’ve come to is that it applies to websites when websites are a part of the part of the of the product or the- or the process.
And so you’re seeing that here again because in these in these reference materials it talks about being the information and services need to be accessible to federal employees and members of the public.
So that might be information that’s on their website and that would mean that your website needs to be accessible so I will link to everything I have mentioned below.