All federal websites and electronic-based materials have to follow 508 compliance. 508 compliance does not apply to privately owned websites, however. All of the information you need to learn more about 508 compliance can be found below.
Section 508 makes online government resources accessible to anyone who is disabled. Communications are the first area that must be accessible, including announcements, messages, training, and webpages. Hardware must also be accessible including computers and phones. Finally, the software must be available including applications and platforms. Accessibility is determined based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 AA.
There are no specificities that apply to tasks required for webmasters to complete. There are common obstacles that should be addressed though. Design is the first that should be accessible. Navigation should be able to be done with a keyboard, and text should be large and clear. Pictures should be non-essential and should contain alt text, while videos should have subtitles.
Section 508 applies to federal agencies and contractors. It does not apply to state or local governments, though many use the standards. Any organization that receives federal funding is also included. It is important to note, however, that national security systems are exempt, and repair equipment is exempt.
Section 508 did have an update in 2018. It is important to know that any systems and websites that were in compliance prior to 2018 are still in compliance. If a site updates after 2018, it must be updated to the new standards from the Section 508 2018 update.
Federal contractors, since the 2018 update, must adhere to the regulations from the Federal Acquisition Regulation. They will also enforce the standards for federal contractors. The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board is actually in charge of developing the guidelines and standards. It has also created all updates and will continue to create future updates. The U.S. General Services Administration assists contractors and federal agencies in maintaining compliance with Section 508.
Section 508 is made to increase accessibility to federal sites and resources. Persons with disabilities deserve the same access as everyone else. It is essential for federal agencies and contractors to follow Section 508 guidelines in order to make the online world more accessible to everyone.