What Is Section 508 Compliance & Why Is It Important?


Section 508 is a law that requires all federal agencies and non-profit organizations that receive financial assistance from the federal government to make their electrical, communication, and information technologies inclusive and accessible to all people, including those with disabilities.

It is important because it prevents discrimination against disabled people within a government institution. Making IT-related industries accessible to disabled persons can substantially improve their quality of life because they are crucial to people at all stages of life.

What Is Section 508?

Section 508 is actually a vital law that requires all federal agencies and organizations that receive government funding to provide accessibility for people with disabilities. We’ll be exploring what this means in practice and why it’s so important to have web accessibility.

The term “Section 508” is actually a former section of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was amended by the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1983. This was a wide-ranging law that introduced many of the electronic accessibility standards we know and love today.

Section 508 guidelines specifically state that any federal agency or organization that receives federal financial assistance must comply with handicapped accessibility standards. It’s important to note that the ADA is a separate law and does not require any federal or non-government organization to comply with the ADA.

It can be interpreted as mandating equal access, but this is not it at all. The technology standards are set by the Access Board under Section 508 to ensure that people with disabilities are given the same opportunities as everyone else. Note that there are differences between Section 508 and ADA compliance.

Section 508 compels any information and communications technology-related agencies that receive federal aid to take the necessary steps to prevent discrimination based on the disabilities of an individual. ADA, on the other hand, is similar to this section but in a broader sense. It compels all agencies, whether government or private, to prevent discrimination in any public accommodation. A separate ruling has now included online assets.

How Does The Government Enforce Section 508?

Section 508’s enforceable portion is largely focused on procurement and is administered through the Federal Acquisition Regulations. Beginning in January 2001, Section 508 was included in the Federal Acquisition Regulations.

This implies that when the government purchases information and communication technology, it must choose the product that best fits accessibility criteria. For example, when a federal agency is buying a vending machine and has narrowed it down to five vending machines that match all the criteria. Section 508 dictates which one the federal agency must buy, the one that’s most accessible to disabled people.

Impacts Of Section 508?

The main impact of section 508 is that it made the government focus on accessibility programs and prioritize individuals with limitations and disabilities. Section 508 reshaped the government’s purchasing habits in its sector.

The private sector also took notes from this change. Another great impact of section 508 is that it forced federal agencies to establish accessibility programs. Government agencies now emphasize a lot more on accessibility and disability programs.

Why Is Section 508 Important?

Section 508 is important because it sets equal rights for people of all sorts in society. No one gets discriminated against because of their disabilities. All the government bodies present equal facilities to the taxpayers.

You cannot expect the private sector to introduce equal accessibility to all people if the federal bodies don’t do it first. Section 508 compels all government agencies and private agencies that receive federal aid to apply equal accessibility to everything related to information and communication technology.

This isn’t limited to just a webpage, but everything it is related to, such as software, mobile applications, documents, and even hardware interfaces like TVs, printers, scanners, etc.


For disabled people, Section 508 is important as it enables them to easily access information and technology-related resources. It compels federal agencies to abide by accessibility programs and ensures equal rights for all people. It is not limited to something trivial; it applies to everything related, from hardware like TVs, fridges, printers to websites, web content, eCommerce sites and everything in between.

ADA For Web is dedicated to ensure that website and client interactions follow accessibility guidelines. Contact us now to get a website accessibility audit.

Working on a website can be difficult. Adding new media and updating pages is chore, even though you know your company website needs to evolve and become more accessible to the many users you are trying to reach. Maybe when you first built it, accessibility wasn’t even really discussed. But now you’ve taken a step back, looked at your customer base with a desire to include everyone and you’ve realized just how important it is to make your site accessible. However, the thought of building a robust site that can do all the things you want it to do is overwhelming.

What is Web Accessibility

A practice of designing and coding the website in order to provide complete compatibility in accessing it by people with disabilities. In addition, it is a way to improve search engine optimization only an ADA Compliant Web Designer will help you to make your website Compliant. Is your website compatible? By going through the checklist below, you can get the answer.

Assessing Current Web Pages and Content

  • The website must include a feature like a navigation link at the top of the page. These links have a bypass mechanism such as a “skip navigation” link. This feature directs screen readers to bypass the row of navigation links and start at the web page content. It is beneficial for people who use screen readers to avoid to listen to all the links each time they jump to a new page.
  • All the links should be understandable when taken out of the context. For example, images without alternative text and links without worded as “click here”.
  • All the graphics, maps, images, and other non-text content must provide text alternatives through the alt attribute, a hidden/visible long description.
  • All the documents posted on the website should available in HTML or another accessible text-based format. It is also applicable to other formats like Portable Document Format (PDF).
  • The online forms on the website should be structured so assistive technology can identify, describe and operate the controls and inputs. By doing this, people with disabilities can review and submit the forms.
  • If the website has online forms, the drop-down list should describe the information instead of displaying a response option. For instance, “Your Age” instead of “18-25”.
  • If the website has data charts and tables, they should be structured so that all data cells are associated with column and row identifiers.
  • All the video files on the website must have audio descriptions (if necessary). This is for the convenience of blind people or for having a visual impairment disability.
  • All the video files on the website must have synchronized captions. People with hearing problems or deaf can access these files conveniently.
  • All the audio files on the website should have synchronized captions to provide access to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • All web pages should be designed so that they can be viewed using visitors’ web browser and operating system settings for color and font.

About Website Accessibility Policy and Procedures

  • One must have a written policy on website accessibility.
  • The website accessibility policy must be posted on the website at a location where it can be easily found.
  • The procedure should be developed to ensure that content is not added to the website until it has been made accessible.
  • It should be confirmed that the website manager has checked the code and structure of all new web pages before they are posted.
  • While adding the PDFs to the website, these should be accessible. Also, the text-based versions of the documents should be accessible at the same time as PDF versions.
  • Make sure that the in-house and contractor staff has received the information about the website accessibility policy and procedure to confirm the website accessibility.
  • It should be confirmed that in-house and contractor staff has received appropriate training on how to ensure the accessibility of the website.
  • The website should have a specific written plan if it contains inaccessible content. Also, it should include timeframes in place to make all of the existing web content accessible.
  • A complete plan to improve website accessibility should be posted along with invited suggestions for improvement.
  • The homepage should include easily locatable information that includes contact details like telephone number and email address. This is useful for reporting website accessibility problems and requesting accessibility services with information.
  • A website should have procedures in place to assure a quick response to the visitors with disabilities who have difficulty in accessing information or services available on the website.
  • Feedback from people who use a variety of assistive technologies is helpful in ensuring website accessibility. So make sure to ask disability groups representing people to provide feedback on the accessibility of your website.
  • Testing the website using a product available on the internet is helpful, These tools are of free cost and check the accessibility of a website. They may not identify all accessibility issues and flag issues that are not accessibility problems. However, these are, nonetheless, a helpful way to improve website accessibility.

Checklist of Action Items for Improving the Accessibility of a Website

In addition, while considering the above suggestions, the following checklist initially prepared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Federal Agencies provides further guidelines on ways to make websites more accessible for persons with disabilities.

This practical advice, as well as another checklist, are available at:

Satisfying all of these items does not necessarily mean that a website complies with ADA, but it will improve the website’s accessibility and decrease the risk of litigation. Again, an Expert or Web Accessibility Consulting & Services provider should be engaged to conduct a comprehensive review of your website.
Nothing brings you closer to reality than actually facing it. This is the premise of my latest attempt to spread awareness about Web Accessibility.
For better understand, here is a link in which a practical example is shown to make the websites’ user experience better by following the guidelines. Also, it tells the issues affecting various users on the internet with solutions.
You can make your website ADA compliant in an easy way by consulting the professionals, who can do this job effortlessly. Also, you can get a quick website audit from To Be ADA Compliant that offers complete web accessibility consulting & services in California, USA.

Resource: https://dev.to/chinchang/an-interactive-and-practical-introduction-to-web-accessibility-22o1