One of the most important changes in the Section 508 Refresh, which went into effect on January 18, 2018, is the way electronic documents are handled. Electronic documents were arguably covered under the previous standards especially when posted to websites, but those requirements were not always put into practice. With the current Section 508 requirements, coverage of electronic content is limited to specific categories of information communicated by agencies to employees or to members of the general public during the conduct of official agency business, as determined by the agency mission. The standards for this content are the WCAG 2.0 A and AA conformance requirements.
Covered categories include:
- Content that is public facing or broadly disseminated within the agency, including websites, blog posts, social media posts, emails, etc.;
- letters adjudicating any cause within the jurisdiction of the agency;
- internal and external program and policy announcements;
- notices of benefits, program eligibility, employment opportunity, or personnel action;
- questionnaires and surveys;
- forms and templates;
- emergency notifications;
- formal acknowledgements or receipts;
- any educational and training materials; and
- intranet content presented as a web page.
There are two exceptions to covered content:
- archival copies retained solely for preserving an exact image of a hard copy, and
- draft versions of documents (access to draft content by an employee with a disability would likely be covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act as an accommodation).
Authoring tools are also covered by the Refresh, so organizations will need a system that can generate accessible content. Content creators will also need training to ensure their content conforms to WCAG 2.0 A and AA requirements. Product documentation, including accessibility features of products, will now need to be directly accessible without request. However, product documentation in alternative formats (e.g., Braille, large print) still must be available upon request.
Want to Learn More?
For a more comprehensive look at what’s changed, download our absolutely, totally free Section 508 Refresh whitepaper.
Also, access the resources from our free on-demand webinar – Section 508 Refresh: Understanding the New Requirements.