If you work in website development you’re going to be hearing a lot of people ask, What is Section 508? Compliance to the website standards in Section 508 are an important new way to equalize access to the internet.

What is Section 508?

Section 508 is an amendment to the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973. President Nixon enacted the original legislation in 1973 to emphasize programs and services to people with disabilities. It replaced the previous law, the Vocational Rehabilitation Act. That law authorized grants to develop services and job training for people with disabilities. The Section 508 Amendment was added by Congress in 1998.

The original law, the Workforce Rehabilitation Act, required that all federal agencies provide grants for vocational rehabilitation services and research and training programs. These provided a special emphasis on services to those with the most severe disabilities. Section 508 was added in recognition of the rise of electronic information technology.

“What is Section 508?” is not a simple question to answer when you really start getting into detail about what the requirements are! A website is considered “accessible” if its information is presented in a form that can be accessed by everyone. Access to all means whether they have a disability or not. For example, if the website contains video tutorials, the videos would have captions allowing them to be read and heard.

Section 508 establishes requirements and standards for electronic and information technology that is developed, maintained, procured, or used by the federal government. Section 508 is intended to ensure that all people, regardless of their physical abilities, can access the information on a federal agency’s website.

What is the full text of Section 508?

There are many articles and sub-articles within Section 508. Article 1194.22 is the one that specifically addresses website accessibility. It’s called “Web based intranet and Internet information and applications” and has 16 sub-articles. Each of these 16 sub-articles addresses a specific technological concern. A web developer or technology manager would implement a solution for each concern for the site to be considered accessible.

The full text of Section 508 is itself made up of seven parts, each with numerous sub-parts and sub-sections. Each section fully explains the requirements for reporting and evaluations as well as the technological standards themselves. Section 508 is a complicated answer to an important issue. ADA Plugin strongly believes that information and technology should be accessible by all people. Our plugin ensures that websites can do that in the easiest and most cost-effective way.

The internet plays a vital role in allowing governments to better serve all of its citizens, and providing all users with an equitable website experience on state and local government websites is an important part of that. With the ADA Section 508 Compliance Plugin for WordPress, web administrators can quickly and easily confirm compliance across the website. The ADA Plugin works behind the scenes on our website to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act Section 508 standards.

Website accessibility following the standards of Section 508 Compliance is a new expectation for meeting the needs of people with different abilities.

Section 508 is a section in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This 1973 legislation emphasized programs and services to people with disabilities. President Nixon signed this groundbreaking legislation into effect. It replaced the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, which authorized grants to develop services and job training for people with disabilities. These acts of legislation and now, the demand for Section 508 compliance, is to equalize access to the “information superhighway.”

Section 508 establishes requirements for electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Federal government. The phrase “Section 508 compliance” means that a website is accessible to people with disabilities. Other sections of the legislation set standards for different things. One is about reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. One provides access to information to members of the public with disabilities. In general, Section 508 compliance helps prevent discrimination on the basis of disability in all federal programs.

An accessible website that achieves Section 508 compliance can be operated in a variety of ways. The compliant website does not rely on a single sense or ability of the user. For example, if the website contains video tutorials, the videos would have captions allowing them to be read rather than simply heard.

ADA Plugin offers a solution to the need for WordPress websites to be sure that their website meets Section 508 Compliance. The website’s technology manager or ADA compliance officer will get a checklist of things on the WordPress website that need to be accessible. Most often, the ADA compliance manager must go into the website to find everything themselves and then address it. The ADA plugin will let them check the status of the website’s Section 508 Compliance with a single click.

A lot of technology and accessibility managers have been talking about Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act lately.

The Rehabilitation Act was signed into law in 1973 by President Nixon. It replaced an earlier vocational rehabilitation law. The intent was to expand programs and services along with job training for people with disabilities. As technology has changed, the law has been updated.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act was added to the law by Congress in 1998. This was in response to the internet being developed. That information needed to be accessible to the general public. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.

There are many articles and sub-articles within Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 508, Article 1194.22 specifically addresses website accessibility. It’s called “Web based intranet and Internet information and applications.” Each of its 16 sub-articles addresses a specific technological concern that a web developer or technology manager at a website would need to check and implement on the site.

For instance:
1194.22 (a): A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided. (e.g., via “alt”, “longdesc”, or in element content).
1194.22 (b): Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation.
1194.22 (c): Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color. (For example from context or markup.)

The technical requirements are quite detailed, as are the ways that a website technology manager must check to see if the requirement is met. Understanding all of these requirements, checking them, implementing solutions and then checking the solutions would take a huge amount of time, even on a modest website.

ADA Plugin is a tool that eliminates this need for your technology officer to spend their work time checking off each topic in these articles and sub-articles. The developer of the ADA Plugin has gone through each of these articles and sub-articles already. The plugin scans WordPress sites to evaluate the site’s content to ensure that it meets the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The plugin makes evaluation and implementation of all of the technological specifics much easier. And because the output of each scan is in the form of a convenient checklist, your technology officer will be confident that they didn’t miss anything they might miss if they were going through each page manually.