Does your website need to be Section 508-compliant? Let us handle that for you.

What is Section 508?

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act was “refreshed” in 2017 to align with WCAG 2.0, Level AA. This means that groups doing business with the U.S. federal government — or receiving funds from it — need to ensure that their websites meet a list of standards. These standards are intended to ensure that users with disabilities have access to the same information available to those without disabilities. As of Jan. 18, 2018, stiff penalties can be assessed to sites that fail to measure up.

Physically disabled young man in a wheelchair using a computerThe reasons for making your site accessible aren’t just about the legal requirements, though. By some estimates, up to 30 percent of a site’s visitors have some kind of disability. These can be blindness, deafness, ADHD, ADD, dyslexia, manual impairment, and many more. Beyond the legal and financial reasons for compliance, ensuring that your site is accessible is simply the right thing to do.

The requirements

If you receive federal funds, you need to be certain that:

  • The images on your site have alternative text.
  • Links on your site are meaningful to screen readers. If your links say “click here,” they are not accessible. This is true even if the links are surrounded by additional context; many screen readers list a page’s links independent of the content surrounding them.
  • Your site’s images don’t contain text that isn’t also presented in an accessible way.
  • Your site’s links are not identifiable solely by color.
  • Adequate color contrast exists for all text on your site.
  • Any videos contain captions for the deaf.
  • Any audio content has an accompanying written transcript.
  • Your site does not use certain kinds of code for presentational purposes if it could be handled in your stylesheet.
  • Your site’s pages do not contain certain kinds of code that has been deprecated. For example <b> instead of <strong>, or <i> instead of <em>.
  • Any PDFs or other documents on your site are accessible. This is a very time-consuming process. Often, PDFs can be turned into actual HTML pages. If they need to remain PDFs, care must be taken to set up each document for accessibility, ensuring a logical structure of the content, so disabled users can hear the document read in its intended sequence, and with all images explained. If a PDF is intended to be completed, it must be possible to accomplish this digitally. Accessibility also applies to Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and other document types.

This is just a quick, cursory glance at the requirements. There are many more checkpoints. For a fuller look at all that Section 508 involves, see this governmental page about “Section 508 Requirements and Responsibilities.”

How to begin

A Grape’s Life Web Design is experienced at evaluating and correcting websites for Section 508 compliance. Contact us today to find out what’s involved in making your site accessible to all users. It may be easier than you think!