Accessibility 101 for the Federal Government
and its Vendors

Section 508 was finally refreshed in 2017.
Are you familiar with the changes? We are (but that’s because we helped write it).

Real citizens. Real access issues.

Senior lady filling out a form on a government website

A federal agency wishes to collect feedback from citizens regarding a potential change to their programs, but the form’s fields cannot be read by a screen reader.

A long-time federal employee develops a severe hand tremor and the computer program he has worked with for years is not compatible with voice-recognition software.

A helpful video is posted on an agency’s website, but it does not include captions or a transcript for constituents who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Fast facts on Section 508

The Law: Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

First passed: 1973

Recently refreshed: 2017

Applies to: Federal agencies, their contractors, and vendors

Requires: Information and communications technology (ICT) must be accessible to persons with disabilities.

ICT includes: Software, websites, web applications, and hardware.

Read more about Section 508 in our free Compliance Resources area.

Government building

What is accessibility?

Braille Computer Display

Digital accessibility refers to the ability of users with disabilities to effectively use information technology (IT) systems including websites, mobile or web-based applications, software, and hardware. Digital accessibility is generally concerned with ensuring that IT systems are designed in such a way that they interact appropriately with assistive technologies.

Assistive technologies can include:

Screen readers, Braille keypads, or screen magnification software so users who are blind or low vision can read your content.

Voice recognition software that helps those with mobility disabilities (even arthritis) navigate the web and type using only their voice.

Head pointers and switch devices that allow those with more limited movement navigate without using their hands or a traditional mouse.

Why Accessibility?

Some of our elders remember the days when a computer filled an entire room. Now, we have computers in our pockets. So many aspects of our lives are made easier by technology.

Yet, those with disabilities are often left out when hardware, software, websites, and apps are designed without a thought for their needs.

A tablet at the doctor’s office has a sign-in program that disables the pinch-to-zoom feature, making it impossible for a woman with low vision to fill out her medical history.

An online learning portal uses automatically-generated captions on their videos, leaving a deaf student at a loss for words. Literally.

A retail website does not include alt text on their product images, so a shopper who is blind cannot “see” what the images show about the laptop bag he wants to buy.

By some estimates, one in five people has a disability that affects their daily life. Having equal access to technology has a profound, enabling effect for people with disabilities.

1 in 5 people has a disability that affects their daily life.

Get in touch

Want to get in touch? We’d love to hear from you. Here’s how you can reach us…