Why 508 Compliance Matters

3/18/2013 12:00:00 AM
Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was enacted in 1998 to eliminate barriers in technology for individuals with disabilities. The intent was also to make new opportunities available for people with disabilities. While the law focused on Federal agencies, the requirements go beyond Federal government contracts to extend to any educational venue using public funds as stated in the follow up memorandum written in 2011 from the U.S. Department of Educations’ Office of Civil Rights clarifying it's 2010 "Dear Colleague" letter to college and university officials reminding them to guarantee all students equal opportunity in the classroom.
 
Section 508 standards cover :
  • Software Applications and Operating Systems
  • Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications
  • Telecommunications Products
  • Videos or Multimedia Products
  • Self Contained, Closed Products
  • Desktop and Portable Computers
How does it apply to web based solutions? It means that those with disabilities will be able to access the solution in question. They may need additional tools to do so; but if a vendor is not compliant, they will be unable to meet the needs of all users.
 
How can you tell if a vendor is 508 complainant? Organizations should have a Voluntary Product Evaluation Template (VPAT). For an example of what a VPAT looks like, you may go to Atomic Learning’s website at www.atomiclearning.com/k12. At the bottom of the page there is a link to our VPAT. If a vendor does not have a VPAT , WCAG 2.0 checklist, or 508 checklist available, it is likely that their product is not 508 compliant.
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