It’s been a long time since the last major update to Section 508 standards took place. And at long last, it’s here! The “508 Standards Refresh” took place January 17, 2017, and will be a requirement for all Federal Agencies on January 18, 2018. We’ve spent several weeks trying to grasp exactly what’s changed, and how it impacts digital accessibility. After reading through voluminous website content, provided by the Federal Government (see sources at the end of this article), we’ve been able to distill this into the lowest common denominator:
1- Now that we’re firmly in the digital age, the biggest update to the 508 Standards addresses digital media: audio, video, etc… Of course, as is with all digital accessibility, alternative versions of that content must be present.
2- There’s more instruction this time around about making websites navigable by keyboard/voice command. Much of this, of course, is related to how your website is built. Make sure you’re hiring a development agency with bona-fide ADA Accessibility experience. This process remains as complex as ever.
3- In a welcome move, Federal compliance now harmonizes accessibility requirements with international standards such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0
4- This is a profound shift in ADA Compliance. The WCAG 2 guidelines far more understandable than the Federal requirements. When building and maintaining your website, you can now rest assured when following the WCAG 2.0 guidelines, though the act of maintaining compliance has not become any easier than before.
5- Clarifies how software and operating systems need to comply.
6- Remember that Section 508 standards go beyond just your agency’s website; all information and communication technology (ICT) is at play.
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WCAG 2.0 guidelines, Section 508 Refresh Quick Reference Guide, Section 508 Refresh Applicability Guide, Section 508 Refresh Toolkit, WCAG 2.0 FAQ, Understanding WCAG 2.0 Conformance, WCAG 2.0 Requirements Checklist, WCAG Overview, Regulatory Impact Analysis, WCAG 2.0 At a Glance.