What is Section 508 Compliance and Why Does it Matter for Your Website?

4 min read

Understanding Section 508


The phrase "Section 508" refers to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in the United States (US), a civil rights law that mandates that government agencies and organizations make their electronic and information technology accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.


What is Section 508 Compliance and Why Does it Matter for Your Website?


The Section 508 compliance laws were updated in 1998 to include provisions for the growth of Internet-related electronic communications in the US federal government.


The law was further updated and strengthened in 2017 with the 508 Refresh, which brought website Section 508 compliance requirements to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA level.


The 508 Refresh raised the US government's level of 508 compliance to a level that is comparable to what the majority of other nations have set.


What is 508 compliance?


We frequently avoid including folks who are unfamiliar with the 508 accessibility context when discussing Section 508 compliance for websites.


This is something I recently saw at a conference where the speaker skipped over defining what Section 508 compliance is in favor of outlining how to test Section 508 compliance. After the talk, during the tea break, a number of newcomers to the information and communication technology (ICT) industry kept asking me, "What is 508 compliance?"


From the aforementioned, I learned how crucial it is to not assume that everyone understands what Section 508 compliance is and how crucial it is to take this into account whenever we're talking about Section 508 compliance so that we can include everyone.


So, what is 508 compliance? 508-compliance, also known as Section 508 compliance, is the legal requirement that federal agencies make sure that the ICT they create, acquire, maintain, or use allows people with disabilities to access and use information and data. This is known as the "employee with a disability" or "individuals with a disability in the public" population.


Why it matters for your website to be Section 508 compliant


All federal websites must be Section 508-compliant. Private websites are not mandated to be 508-compliant unless they receive federal funds or are under contract with a federal agency.


For a website to be compliant with Section 508, it must be simple for people with disabilities to navigate and access it using a keyboard, have alternative text (ALT) provided for all images and videos used on the site, support screen readers throughout, have transcripts and captions for all videos and audios, avoid screen flicker, have no time limits on accessing any particular content, and much more.


Making your website Section 508 compliant is important because it increases the platform's accessibility for users with impairments, which increases traffic and conversions.


Additionally, content on websites that complies with Section 508 compliance standards is probably more user-friendly for everyone, not just those with disabilities.


Accessible websites that comply with Section 508 are very helpful to people with disabilities, especially when they face obstacles like reading video captions in noisy or silent settings. When accessible in noisy situations, video and audio subtitles can also make it easier for people without disabilities to follow the spoken information.


What is Section 508 Compliance and Why Does it Matter for Your Website?


Section 508 compliance also protects owners of a website from Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility lawsuits that are making many non-compliant businesses and organizations lose lots of money in litigation and the payment of damages.


Website Section 508 compliance also makes good business sense because it ensures that the business or organization owning the website brings the many customers with disabilities into its fold. This enhances their revenue and profits.


Need help with making your website Section 508 compliant today?


You can use a Section 508 compliance tester to check whether your website meets the established accessibility standards. A good Section 508 compliance tester will highlight the accessibility issues you need to work on to make your website accessible to all users.



It is always important to have a manual accessibility audit of your website performed by a 508 compliance agency like ADACP in addition to employing a 508 compliance tester to help you determine the level of compliance the website has with Section 508. For more information on how ADACP may help you with Section 508 compliance, call them at (626) 486-2201.

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