Choosing the Right Section 508 Consultant: Factors to Consider

5 min read

Who is a Section 508 consultant?

A Section 508 consultant is an expert in the Americans with Disabilities Act and other accessibility standards, as well as the universal design of accessibility practices. Not only do Section 508 consultants report their findings after undertaking accessibility testing and develop solutions to the accessibility issues they uncover, but they also work closely with a team from the client organization or company to implement those solutions. As an advocate of accessibility, the Section 508 consultant helps train peers and mentors them on accessibility best practices as well.


Making the decision to hire a Section 508 consultant is usually a demonstration that you appreciate the fact that accessibility means more than checking boxes to adhere to a law or the established guidelines. It bespeaks of your understanding that accessibility is about the user experience (UX) and the need to ensure that all users of your electronic and information technology (EIT) can access and use your product or services.


Choosing the Right Section 508 Consultant: Factors to Consider


While there are many automated accessibility-testing programs that help organizations and companies find accessibility problems quickly, there are other areas requiring accessibility that require expert manual accessibility testing. For example, delivering accessibility hardware requires the help of a Section 508 consultant well versed in the use of a hardware accessibility audit template as well as the hardware accessibility guidelines.


Therefore, whether you are hiring a full-time Section 508 consultant or a short-term consultant to help you with Section 508 accessibility, it is important to pick the expert who knows how to identify your product’s or service’s accessibility problems and help to fix them.


What to consider when choosing a Section 508 consultant

Here is a breakdown of the factors you need to consider when choosing the Section 508 consultant to help you identify and deal with your accessibility issues:



  • Knowledge of what you are testing


What you should look for when choosing a Section 508 consultant to help you identify and fix accessibility issues associated with your EIT product or service will depend on what you are testing and fixing. If your focus is on accessibility hardware, for example, you will need someone who is experienced in working with the hardware accessibility audit template using the hardware accessibility guidelines. You don’t need someone who will start asking, “What is accessibility hardware?” when you start explaining to them the assignment. If you are choosing a consultant who developed an app or software for you to conduct accessibility testing for the app or software, you need to be aware that they will require some additional skills to enable them to effectively deliver your assignment.


For example, if you are choosing a consultant to deliver website accessibility for you, you need to first make a list of the elements you are using and which will be tested. These might include elements controlling the appearance and functionality of your site, such as CSS and JavaScript; the foundational elements of your site; or the functionality of your program, such as Python, Java, or MySQL. Given that this assignment necessitates the use of many technologies, choosing a consultant who is familiar with all of them will dramatically impact your accessibility testing.


Choosing the Right Section 508 Consultant: Factors to Consider


  • Education


Choosing a good Section 508 consultant starts with education. A formal education in computer programming and information systems generally provides the foundational knowledge needed for the task. Graduates in these fields may or may not have taken courses or lessons addressing accessibility and Section 508 specifically, so you may find experiences with accessibility varying.


  • Section 508 experiences


If your accessibility issues are mostly content-based, such as missing alt text, disorganized headings, or unclear links, then your accessibility specialist should be skilled with your CMS as well as SEO. The consultant should also have experience with assistive technologies that a person with a disability might use to access your site or program, as well as the tools used to uncover accessibility roadblocks.


  • Other factors to consider


Other factors you may have to consider based on the aspect of Section 508 testing and fixing you are experiencing include a good understanding of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and what this means for the UX, knowledge of SEO best practices, a good understanding of the laws surrounding accessibility, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 508. Finally, the consultant should be able to demonstrate their success with Section 508 accessibility work, including their previous projects that are similar to yours.


Need help in choosing the right Section 508 consultant?

If you are in doubt regarding how to choose a Section 508 consultant for your accessibility work, you can get help from Section 508 audit and testing experts like ADACP, who you can call at (626) 486-2201 to schedule a free consultation.

In case you have found a mistake in the text, please send a message to the author by selecting the mistake and pressing Ctrl-Enter.
Comments (0)

    No comments yet

You must be logged in to comment.

Sign In / Sign Up