In January 2017, the U.S. Access Board published a final rule updating information technology (IT)accessibility requirements covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which includes IT that is developed, procured, maintained, or used by federal agencies. The Rehabilitation Act is a federal law which requires programs and activities funded by federal agencies to be accessible to people with disabilities, including federal employees and members of the public. Here's a recap of the changes.
Compliance with the Revised 508 Standards is also a requirement of OMB M-17-06, Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites and Digital Services (PDF, 1.2 MB, 18 pages, November 2016). They went into effect on January 18, 2018. Watch this video to learn more.
Notable changes to the Standards include:
- Incorporation of the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, to harmonize with other accessibility standards worldwide.
- Requirement that all public-facing official agency business content (and specific categories of non-public-facing content that is official agency business) must be accessible.
- Requirements are now organized by functionality, instead of product type, to more easily keep pace with rapid advances in technology.
Your first stop for guidance on the new Standards is the Revised 508 Standards Toolkit Policy Refresh. Developed by GSA's Government-wide 508 Program, the US Access Board, and the Federal CIO Council Accessibility Community of Practice, it's the central hub for Standards implementation guidance.
Development and Content Creation
If you're a developer or content manager, this detailed guidance will help you create accessible systems and content, and learn how to test content for accessibility.
- Accessibility Resources for Developers and Authors - Tools and training
- Accessibility Testing for Electronic Content - Testing guidance
Learn how to define requirements and procure IT products and services that comply with the Revised 508 Standards.
- Revised 508 Standards Applicability Checklist (MS-Word, November 2017) - Checklist to help you determine whether and how the Standards apply
- Instructions - Revised 508 Standards Applicability Checklist - Step-by-step guidance on how to complete the Standards Applicability Checklist
- Applicable 508 Standards and Exceptions Chart - Sample template for reporting standards and exceptions in solicitations
Procure Accessible Technology
- How to Define Accessibility Provisions, Clauses, and Acceptance Criteria - Learn how to prepare solicitations, statements of work, or other procurement documents
- How to Request Accessibility Information From Vendors and Contractors - Learn how to communicate accessibility requirements and contract provisions to vendors
These tools will help your agency comply with the management responsibilities that go along with the 508 Standards Refresh.
- Building Organizational Support for Accessible Electronic Content - Help content creators throughout your organization understand their responsibility to develop accessible content
- Revised 508 Standards Roadmap - Learn how to manage a successful 508/IT Accessibility program
If you need help, connect with your Agency Section 508 Coordinator.