508 Compliance Checklists
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Checklists are beneficial when we have specific objectives we want to meet. To reach certain goals or accomplish new tasks, checklists provide sound guidance and are always helpful.
If you are a business owner with an online website, you’ll be happy to know that website accessibility checklists are available. You probably fall under the standards of ADA, W3C, and Section 508 compliance, so keep reading to determine the minimum compliance standards you must meet.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law last 1990 and was amended in 2010. ADA is a fundamental civil rights law. It prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, even public and private places that are open to the general public. Given how society has progressed in recent years, websites on the internet are now included and covered by the ADA.
This means that all sorts of websites that are open to the general public should be accessible to people with all kinds of disabilities. However, the ADA does not outline specific compliance standards for web accessibility.
Generally, business owners ensure their website can cater to at least the following:
These are just some of the compliance standards for an essential website. Otherwise, users with disabilities will be unable to access their products and services online, which counts as noncompliance with the ADA and loss for the business.
Besides the Americans with Disabilities Act, W3C standards can also be used as a checklist to standardize web technology.
Meanwhile, W3C standards define an open web platform for application development to enable developers to build rich interactive experiences on any device.
W3C involves more technical specifications for web design and application standards. These include HTML, CSS, SVG, Ajax, WCAG, etc. They are also helping build a technology stack to support databases to develop systems that can create data stores on the web, build vocabularies, and even write rules for handling data.
While it sounds very technical, there is great value in using the W3C standards to reference your website. Their clear guidelines will allow your web developers to create an impressive and seamless webpage – merging functionality and aesthetic – that is accessible for all.
Lastly, let’s look into the Section 508 compliance standards.
In 1973, The Rehabilitation Act was passed to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities in the federal sector. Later on, Section 508 was added into the law, specifying that information and communication technology (ICT) must be accessible to people with disabilities.
This means that websites, mobile apps, and all forms of ICT, such as info kiosks and telecommunications equipment, must be accessible enough for people with disabilities. There should not be any technical barriers that make it difficult or even impossible for people with disabilities to use or access these forms of ICT.
What makes Section 508 and The Rehabilitation Act different from ADA is that the former applies to all federal agencies and even organizations that receive federal funding. Besides Section 508, however, states and local governments have their legislation requiring certain groups within that state to comply with Section 508.
Their standards refer to particular accessibility criteria that websites and other ICT must adhere to. It provides a checklist of specific requirements that must be followed – unlike the ADA, which does not outline specific accessibility standards.
Over the years, as technology evolves, so does our knowledge about accessibility barriers and what technical attributes make it easier – or harder – for people with disabilities to use online technology. So Section 508 has been changed since it was first introduced to accommodate technological improvements for people with disabilities.
It was in 1998 when enforceable web accessibility standards were included in Section 508. Different types of ICT were grouped into categories, and technical requirements were provided for each category.
There are many requirements added to Section 508 through the years, such as –
But these are mere criteria – what about the compliance checklist itself?
Of course, checklists go on and on with many technical terms for web accessibility. They must cover the entire range of disabilities that their users may have.
Below are five simple aspects of a Section 508 compliance testing checklist, along with a short explanation about why these attributes matter for web accessibility.
Keep in mind that Section 508 and the ADA cover different entities. While the compliance standards are different, the main objective is the same, which is to make the internet entirely accessible for people with disabilities.