Are You 508 Compliant?

Section 508 is an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a federal law that aims to eliminate discrimination and extend rights to people with disabilities. 508 compliance refers to the legal requirement that all electronic and information technology (EIT) developed, produced, maintained, or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities.

508 compliance applies to all federal agencies, making sure that EIT is accessible to employees and the public to the extent that 508 compliance is not an “undue burden.” EIT includes telecommunications products (e.g., telephones), information kiosks and transaction machines, websites, multimedia, and office equipment (e.g., computers, copiers, and fax machines). Accessibility compliance is about making content easy to use for everyone with a disability. 508 compliance eliminates barriers in electronic and information technology opening a wider array of opportunities for people with disabilities when visiting the parks.

Concessioners operating at National Park Service sites are expected to be 508 compliant as well. Specific areas that concessioners should pay close attention to include website design, reservation systems, information kiosks, and telephone operations.

New to 508 compliance and unsure how to start?

Below are some helpful tips to get you started. Keep this checklist on hand while making interface content such as websites, phone recordings, and reservation systems (via web or phone) 508 compliant.

Websites

  • Use color effectively: use an additional method other than color to convey important information. For example, blue might be used to indicate links but be sure to underline the links as well.
  • Ensure the website is easy to navigate: every frame must have a title that describes the frames purpose and content.
  • Make electronic forms accessible: if the website has forms that need to be filled out people must be able to access information contained within them. These checklists will help ensure forms (PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML, Multimedia) are compliant.
  • Provide a text alternative for every non-text element: Images and other embedded media with content or information must have equivalent alternative text. Graphs and charts need to be accompanied by alternative text. Columns and rows in data tables must be appropriately identified.

Audio and Video

  • Audio: If audio is used, a text transcript of the spoken words must be provided. The text document needs to be accessible as well.
  • Video: If a video does not have audio, a video description needs to be provided. There needs to be a text description of the key visual elements to comprehend what is going on in the video. If a video has audio, closed captions, text transcripts, and video descriptions must be provided.

508 compliance can be a complicated subject that requires paying close attention to how EIT is formatted and presented to the public. The above is a quick guide to get you started but may not cover all legal requirements to be 508 compliant. More detailed information can be found at General Services Administration Section 508 website.