U.S. Access Board Announces Section 508 Standards in Line with WCAG 2.0

Graphic of an alarm clock going off, a clipboard with the words "Section 508," and a question mark

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – January 20, 2017 – Last week, the United States Access Board announced long-awaited updates to national accessibility requirements beneath Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The updated regulations were influenced by standards issued by the European Commission and are now aligned with global Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), the criteria used in Siteimprove’s Accessibility tool. These guidelines are already recognized in most developed countries and address many disabilities pertaining to vision, color perception, cognition, manual dexterity, and more.

Section 508 has existed in the United States since 1998, but without a concrete deadline, companies may have dedicated resources to accessibility efforts. Now with a set deadline, the law becomes more enforceable, particularly in the event of a complaint or lawsuit.

The refresh is aimed at federal agencies and any business that provides services in the digital sphere to federal agencies, including software, hardware, information technology, and more. It also applies to organizations that receive funds from a federal agency. However, Section 508 will have long-lasting effects across all American industries.

Digital content must comply with WCAG 2.0 criteria levels of A and AA, which entail the most critical elements to making the user experience accessible. Website content including text, images, video, animations, and more must be easily accessible to those with disabilities by incorporating header tags, alt attributes, and other elements.

These rules were published in the National Register Jan. 18, 2017, and federal agencies and businesses that sell to or receive funds from federal agencies have 12 months to become compliant. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Education (DOE) will continue to enforce accessibility compliance by investigating formal complaints made through their respective Offices for Civil Rights (OCR).

For more information on accessibility standards and what you can do before January 2018 to become accessible, watch our recent webinar: Section 508 Refresh: Now What?


Request the webinar recording covering the latest Section 508 updates.




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by Stacey McGuire
January 20th
2017