Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

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.

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