Friday, June 24, 2011

Web Accessibility: Section 508 Compliance

Congress instituted section 508 in 1998 to make new online opportunities available to people with disabilities and to encourage the development of software and technologies to help make this happen. An amendment of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 508 requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology available to disabled citizens. Under the amendment, agencies must give disabled employees and citizens access to information accessible to others.

Why is Section 508 –Web accessibility Important!

Imagine surfing the web with your eyes closed. All of a sudden, those little things you take for granted — like quickly scanning a table for information, making judgments based on color-coded status updates, or filling out a protected form are no longer available to you. Many people who are blind or visually impaired cannot access the websites where as in recent days as these are evolving as human need.

To make sure everyone has access to all the websites, section 508 compliance was introduced. It has a number of features that make navigation easier for people using screen readers and uses a large high-contrast display for people who have difficulty seeing traditionally formatted web pages. The standards of Section 508 are extensive and greatly dependent upon the type of disability at hand. The standards establish a minimum level of accessibility, but many Web companies are going above and beyond for the disabled members of society.

Areas of compliance:

Website Navigation - All the web designers/developers now have a lot of stake. Website navigation is crucial for 508 compliances by which users can navigate all across websites.

Audio and Video – Videos and other multimedia are often used for ads and other programs on the website. But without the ability to hear, there can be a large disconnect for the hearing impaired. Add the necessary audio descriptions and captions.

Flash – Flash is extremely useful in catering to the hearing impaired. It allows Web designers to create complex and detailed pictures and charts that cannot be created with basic HTML. Flash is a valuable tool in Section 508 compliance.

Resizable Text – It gets difficult for people with disabilities to read some of the small text found on various Web sites. It is important to provide the resizable text option so they can adjust the size based on their visual needs.

Text Only Versions – Web sites must have a text only version for the hearing impaired individuals, especially if Web site has a lot of videos that require hearing important details.

More information

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