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What is the Rehabilitation Act of 1973?

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by, receiving financial assistance from, or employing federal employees or contractors in federal agencies. The Rehabilitation Act has several sections impacting digital accessibility, including 504 and 508:

What is Section 504?

Section 504 prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in federal entities, or programs that receive federal financial assistance. It aims to protect children and adults with disabilities from exclusion, and unequal treatment in schools, jobs and the community. Section 504 sets the stage for enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Subsequent amendments to the Rehabilitation act of 1973 strengthened requirements for access to electronic and information technology in the federal sector.

What is Section 508?

Section 508, an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, mandates that all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public.  

On January 18, 2017 the Access Board, an independent federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities, issued a final rule or “508 Refresh” that updates accessibility requirements for information and communication technology in the federal sector.

What is the Section 508 Refresh?

The Section 508 refresh jointly updates and reorganizes the Section 508 standards in response to market trends and innovations, such as the convergence of technologies. The refresh also harmonizes these requirements with other guidelines and standards both in the U.S. and abroad, including standards issued by the European Commission and with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a globally recognized voluntary consensus standard for web content and information and communication technology. Specifically, the rule references WCAG 2.0 Level AA success criteria and applies them not only to websites, but also to electronic documents and software.

Who needs to be 508 Compliant?

Section 508 applies to federal agencies as well as any company that does business with a federal agency. This includes private contractors, the financial industry, healthcare, many legal organizations, and more.

What Technologies are Included in Section 508?

If your company falls under the jurisdiction of Section 508 compliance, the following technologies must be accessible:

  • PDFs
  • Computer software and hardware
  • Mobile apps
  • Websites
  • Games
  • Videos, multimedia and all other digital content
  • Kiosks

How do I become Section 508 Compliant?

AudioEye’s end-to-end Ally Managed Service ensures the fastest, most comprehensive and efficient path to digital accessibility and compliance. Our solution begins to identify and remediate errors on day one of implementation, and once fully provisioned, AudioEye certifies your website and helps you maintain substantial conformance with WCAG 2.1 Level AA success criteria.