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What is the Federal ADA Standards (Accessibility Law)?

Accessibility laws and standards

The ADA Federal Regulations (Accessibility Law) relates to IT accessibility laws and policies, which can be found in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act defines what these federal ADA guidelines entail, “In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. The law (29 U.S.C § 794 (d)) applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508, agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information comparable to the access available to others.”

The amendments of 1998 added and expanded upon the requirements that Federal agencies and federally maintained websites needed in order to be compliant with EIT accessibility laws.

IT Accessibility Improvements and Updates

Some of the changes that were established to improve IT accessibility include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Binding, enforceable standards in EIT accessibility were created
  • These standards were incorporated into Federal procurement regulations
  • These accessibility standards will be used in all electronic and information technology acquisitions
  • These standards are consistent government-wide
  • High Federal ADA standards for accessibility to persons with disabilities promotes competition and improvements throughout the technology industry
  • Clarity and consistency in accessibility standards allows for greater success among all Federal agencies in making their technology systems accessible to people with disabilities
  • A complaint and reporting procedure was established to gather feedback that can be used to make further improvements

What is the U.S. Access Board?

“The United States Access Board is a federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities through leadership in accessible design and the development of accessibility guidelines and standards for the built environment, transportation, communication, medical diagnostic equipment, and information technology.”

According to the U.S. Access Board, “an information technology system is accessible to people with disabilities if it can be used in a variety of ways that do not depend on a single sense or ability.”

In order for a website, computer program, electronic document, etc. to be considered accessible to people with disabilities, they must have more than one way to deliver the information to the user, visually and audibly, for example.

The United States Access Board issued a final rule in 2017 that included updates to the IT accessibility requirements covered by Section 508. The final rule went into effect in January of 2018.

Goals of the final rule were to “ensure consistency in accessibility across the spectrum of information and communication technologies (ICT)” as follows:

  • Improve IT accessibility for persons with disabilities
  • Make the accessibility guidelines and requirements easier to understand
  • Update the accessibility requirements to be current with constantly changing technology
  • Accessibility guideline consistency with other domestic and foreign standards

T-Base Specializes in IT Accessibility

T-Base provides IT accessibility assistance to ensure your website and mobile apps are fully accessible to users with disabilities. T-Base can show you what adjustments you may need to make in order to be compliant with WCAG 2.0/2.1 AA (the international standard for web accessibility), the ADA, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. At a time when inclusion and equality for all populations is imperative, T-Base can ensure your website is inclusive and accessible to all users. Contact us today to learn more.

Jeff Jullion

Author Jeff Jullion

Manager of Education Accessibility Communications  at T-Base Communications Inc.

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