Beyond Compliance: The Future of Section 508 Testing and Inclusive Design

  • 3.08.2023

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    Understanding Section 508 compliance or accessibility

    Elevators and wheelchair ramps often come to mind whenever we think of accessibility. There is nothing wrong with that, as these are some of the challenges associated with accessibility that people with disabilities endure.

    However, accessible ramps and elevators are only a small part of Section 508 compliance. To ensure that everything utilized by people with disabilities is accessible to them, there is still a lot that can be done. This necessitates the development of a purposeful workplace culture of accessibility and 508 compliance that strengthens attitudes and convictions inside businesses or organizations in support of encouraging effective communication that is in line with 508 compliance, accessible workstations, and accessible programs and services.

    What is 508 compliance?

    The term “508 compliance” refers to complying with the guidelines established to comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by federal agencies and the programs they run.

    Contrary to popular assumption, private businesses that disregard Section 508 compliance are not yet out of the woods. This is due to the fact that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) forbids discrimination on the basis of disability in places of public accommodation, including the Internet, restaurants, retail, and many other places. For failing to comply with either Title III of the ADA or Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, both public and private organizations are subject to heavy fines.

    The fact that the accessibility requirements set forth by Section 508 and the ADA are comparable, however, is reassuring. Therefore, even if your corporation only works in private, 508 compliance is something you shouldn’t overlook. In fact, a lot of companies and organizations are going above and beyond the requirement for compliance to include an inclusive design culture in every aspect of their business. Given the number of individuals with disabilities around the globe and their disposable income, this is particularly true since it makes economic sense. Complying with Section 508 is also morally correct.

    When considering Section 508 compliance, the fundamental question that motivates many businesses and organizations to go beyond compliance is, “How would you like to be treated if you were in the position of a person with disabilities, now and in the future?”

    Numerous businesses and organizations are actively working with accessibility experts, like ADACP, to help them future-proof their information and communication technology (ICT) products and services so they can benefit from compliance’s benefits. The direction that Section 508 compliance testing and inclusive design will go in the future is one of the important areas of future accessibility efforts that go beyond compliance.

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      The future of inclusive design and Section 508 compliance testing

      Limited awareness of people has constrained the use of the term “inclusive,” primarily with respect to culture, education, and politics. This state of affairs has led to ignorance about the term’s importance with regard to the usability of many products and services used by people with disabilities.

      Since inclusive design expands and guarantees the reach and accessibility of mainstream products and services to the vast majority of the population without the need for specialized adaptations, it necessitates a shift in conventional thinking. It is supported by the reality that 15% of people worldwide live with a disability.

      Putting money into inclusive design improves customer acquisition and loyalty. This is so that everyone can use inclusively designed goods and services. Indeed, there will be an increase in users with some of the other types of disabilities as a result of an aging population brought on by a larger population and higher life expectancies. Better solutions and experiences are produced when inclusive design is used. Not designing inclusively will only result in losing out to a sizable and expanding consumer sector.

      Additionally, inclusive design increases revenue. Investing in strong and inclusive design will quickly pay for those expenditures and generate a return on the initial investment, even though designing inclusively does have a cost.

      Additionally, inclusive design presents a wonderful chance to foster interpersonal harmony. By design, people are brought together by producing and designing user-friendly goods and services that anyone, regardless of ability, may utilize. It also gives disabled people a feeling of inclusion.

      Equitable usage, flexible use, low physical effort, easy and intuitive use, palpable information, tolerance for error, and low visual clutter will be the seven guiding principles for inclusive design in the future. Future universal designs should ensure that those with disabilities could utilize the same goods and services without any adjustments. A coffee maker with a noticeable Braille-written button can serve as a suitable illustration. That is why it is argued that because it ensures that all workers are treated with respect and comfort, universal design will become standard in workplace settings in the future.

      The role of Section 508 testing in future inclusive designs

      Testing for Section 508 compliance involves assessing a product’s or service’s numerous elements to see whether they comply with the requirements set out in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

      Testing for Section 508 compliance supports the inclusion of universal design in future inclusive designs, aids in the accessibility of websites and online portals, offers assistance in obtaining the necessary assistive technology, promotes a flexible work policy, and promotes accessible meetings and trainings.

      Owners of digital products and services can use Section 508 compliance testing as a tool to make sure that their products and services meet and surpass the accessibility standards established in the Section 508 guidelines in the future, with an emphasis on inclusive design. Businesses and organizations may build robust and inclusive digital environments for all upcoming consumers of their products and services by prioritizing accessibility and Section 508 testing.

      Need help taking the accessibility of an ICT beyond compliance?

      Due to the inherent advantages of making their products and services accessible to all users, many businesses and organizations have realized the significance of moving beyond the Section 508 compliance horizon in the compliance ecosystem for their ICT products and services and mainstreaming an inclusive design culture. Don’t fall behind others in making comparable investments.

      Get in touch with us so we can help you test 508 compliance for your product or service so you can know the accessibility issues you need to focus on toward embracing inclusive design in the product or service. Schedule a consult or call us at (626) 486-2201 so that we can help you through the journey of mainstreaming inclusive design in your products and services through targeted Section 508 testing.