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IT Accessibility Laws and Policies

Section 508 Policy

Related Laws

Related Policies

Agency Policies

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. The law (29 U.S.C § 794 (d)) applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508, agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information comparable to the access available to others.

The U.S. Access Board is responsible for developing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) accessibility standards to incorporate into regulations that govern Federal procurement practices. On January 18, 2017, the Access Board issued a final rule that updated accessibility requirements covered by Section 508, and refreshed guidelines for telecommunications equipment subject to Section 255 of the Communications Act. The final rule went into effect on January 18, 2018.

The rule updated and reorganized the Section 508 Standards and Section 255 Guidelines in response to market trends and innovations in technology. The refresh also harmonized these requirements with other guidelines and standards both in the U.S. and abroad, including standards issued by the European Commission, and with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), a globally recognized voluntary consensus standard for web content and ICT.

Revised 508 Standards

Related Laws

It is important to understand Section 508 in the context of other laws related to federal disability policy. In addition to Section 508, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 has several other sections:

  • Section 501 and 505 - Prohibits federal employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities
  • Section 503 - Prohibits employment discrimination based on disability by federal contractors or subcontractors
  • Section 504 - Prohibits federal agencies, programs, or activities from discriminating and requires reasonable accommodation for qualified individuals with disabilities

Additional related laws include:

Related Policies

OMB Memos

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

State and International

  • State Policy - States' legislation requiring electronic and information technology accessibility
  • International Harmonization - Other government-supported efforts around the world working on a "standards approach" to encuring ICT accessibility.

Agency Policies

The transition from the Original 508 Standards to the Revised 508 Standards was an opportunity for agencies to revisit and update their Section 508, 501, and 504 policies. Policies on how your agency implements each Section of the Rehabilitation Act should be closely aligned, to clarify responsibilities and determine how to respond to claims of discrimination on the basis of disability.

Your accessibility policies should explain that your agency is obligated to:

  • Make Information and Communication Technology (ICT) accessible to people with disabilities; and
  • Accommodate the needs of employees and program participants, while meeting the Revised 508 requirements.

    Learn how to maintain your agency's accessibility policies.

    Sample Policies and Accessibility Statements

     

    Reviewed/Updated: November 2018