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What’s New in the Section 508 Refresh?

Rishi Agrawal 01/31/18

WCAG 2.0 IconOn January 18, 2018, the Section 508 Refresh (“the Refresh”) officially took effect. Let’s take a look at some of the most critical changes in the Refresh.

The Section 508 revised standards bring harmonization with international standards, most notably the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0), which are incorporated by reference. This means WCAG 2.0 conformance requirements are used to measure compliance of documents, web content, and software (when applicable) for Section 508.

The Refresh follows the prior advanced notices by restructuring Section 508 around the function of products and services rather than types of products or services. After all, modern technology often combines different functionality into one product or service.

Now, when evaluating a mobile phone (previously just one “type” of product), those determining compliance can evaluate the functions of that phone:

  • hardware,
  • telecommunications services,
  • software,
  • web content, and
  • multimedia.

This should reduce confusion about applicable requirements and remove repetitive standards and guidelines that were previously placed in each section to address the same issues across product types.

The interoperability requirements are updated to be more clear as to how technology (e.g., operating systems, software toolkits, platforms, and browsers) must work together with assistive technology (e.g., screen readers, screen magnifiers, and speech recognition) to increase or maintain access by people with disabilities.

The new standards also indicate that all types of public facing content, as well as specific categories of non-public facing content that communicate agency official business, would have to be accessible to people with disabilities as well. Previously, it was not clear if this content was covered under Section 508 or not, especially when it was not posted to a website.

Download WhitepaperWant to Learn More?

For more information on the Refresh, check out our Section 508 Refresh whitepaper.

And access the resources from our free, on-demand webinar: Section 508 Refresh: Understanding the New Requirements

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