Updates to Section 508

Wounded Warrior Project
June 30, 2015
Requirements in the Private Sector for Goods and Services
July 14, 2015

In 1998 the US Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law 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 that is comparable to the access available to others. With these parts of the amendment in mind, they only cover a small portion of the information that we utilize on a daily basis.

Updates are required to help create a more accepting environment toward all users. Some of the more recent updates to Section 508 are created to keep up with current technology and others are created to pick up where the original amendment wasn’t applied. Some of the more recent updates are centered on handheld and mobile devices. Mobile devices must be accessible to disabled users through any sort of compatible assistive technology. Operating systems for portable devices must be accessible to disabled users and must be able to comply with assistive technology programs. Video and multimedia on the Internet must be equipped with closed captioning if the media has ever been broadcasted on television; user uploaded content does not fall under the same guidelines.

When the guidelines are updated, it keeps disabled users under the umbrella of accessibility. By creating more compatible software, applications, and devices, the disabled community will have the ability to live more connected and not any different from those without disabilities. The updates to Section 508 strive to keep the amendment relevant and up-to-date with the technology that we as a society are currently utilizing. Without these updates, disabled users are neglected and are left unable to utilize the technology they may need to complete a job they are hired to do to complete a simple task they choose to do.