What is Section 508?


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.