Section 508 Requirements for Government Tech Companies

  • 9.11.2023

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    What are government tech companies?

    Government tech companies are a category of technology companies geared toward serving the government sector through technology products and services in the same way that companies in the FinTech industry serve the financial industry. Many of these companies use process automation technology that is designed to automate mindless tasks so that government workers can stop focusing their time and energy on administrative work and instead work on getting big problems solved.

    Automating mindless tasks with the help of government tech companies reduces the amount of time it takes for government workflows to get done. With automation and time savings, government tech companies also cause serious money savings for government organizations. They also encourage government entities to switch to paperless workflows that ensure relevant documentation is passed to government officials automatically upon submission and stored in a way that saves the government entity time and keeps its data safe and secure.

    Is it obligatory for government tech companies to be Section 508 compliant?

    Government tech companies deal in electronic and information technology (EIT). As a federal requirement, every EIT created, maintained, or utilized by the federal government must comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. This ensures that technology goods and services are accessible to everyone in the modern digital era, including people with disabilities.

    To be Section 508-compliant, government tech companies should ensure that the technology products and services they offer meet the established accessibility standards. These standards have been organized into various categories, including software applications and operating systems, web-based intranet and internet information and applications, telecommunication products, video and multimedia products, and self-contained closed products.

    Key accessibility standards that government tech companies need to integrate into all their technology products and services include the requirements for text alternatives for non-text content, captions and audio descriptions for multimedia content, keyboard accessibility, time limits for access to content, colour contrast, device compatibility, error prevention and recovery, navigation and links, readability and simplicity, and content organization.

    Government tech companies have a great chance of benefiting from Section 508 compliance testing if they develop, acquire, manage, or use technology-related products and services. These benefits include increased accessibility and user engagement with their products or services (which is crucial for government agencies required by law to provide equal access to technology products or services), avoiding litigation, improving user experience, enhancing organizational reputation, growing market share, and encouraging innovation.

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      What is 508 compliance for government tech companies?

      508 compliance for government tech companies can be defined as meeting or exceeding the Section 508 compliance requirements by government tech companies. Contrary to the misconceptions that are widely propagated, indicating that 508 compliance applies only to federal agencies, the law applies to any entity that does or hopes to do business with any federal agency. This includes all private contractors, such as government tech companies. It also applies to any entity receiving financial assistance from the federal government.

      Therefore, if your business is geared toward serving the government sector through technology products or services or intends to communicate with people electronically or digitally, you need to be Section 508 compliant. Being 508 compliant ensures that the company offers all its clients equal and non-biased access to all information it creates or provides to people. A comprehensive Section 508 audit helps an entity ascertain whether the technology products or services it provides or intends to provide meet the established Section 508 compliance requirements.

      The Section 508 compliance requirements companies need to comply with

      As the demand for inclusivity intensifies, digital accessibility is a must-have feature for all companies dealing in EIT products and services. Accessible digital products and services are now an essential part of impactful business strategies.

      Accessible digital products and services also demonstrate ethical obligations to the many people living with disabilities worldwide. That is why every business, including government tech companies, must have a Section 508 compliance checklist incorporating the updated 508 compliance requirements.

      If your government tech company offers technology products or services with barriers for people with disabilities, it means that you are violating Section 508 and could face a costly lawsuit that permanently damages your brand’s reputation. In short, your company could lose thousands of dollars in unnecessary fines and potential sales with non-compliant products or services.

      On the other hand, abiding by the Section 508 compliance requirements can help your company mitigate possible costly legal consequences, enhance the brand image of your company, and broaden the user base for the company. Achieving 508 compliance requirements calls for thorough and professional Section 508 compliance testing for any EIT product or service offered to the market or intended to be offered to the market.

      Important Section 508 compliance requirements for government tech companies

      Some of the important 508 compliance requirements every government tech company needs to comply with include the following:

      • Having standardized desktop and laptop computers, as well as operating controls, including keyboards and touch screens.

      • Provision of self-contained and closed products so that users cannot add or connect their properties to the products. For example, if the company provides fax machines, printers, kiosks, or other EIT products and services, it should make sure that specific features are built into them to ensure full compliance with the law.

      • Ensuring that all software applications and operating systems are accessible through keyboard navigation.

      • Making sure that all telecommunication products, including mobile devices and voicemail functionalities, are compatible with various assistive technologies like hearing aids.

      • Ensuring video and multimedia captioning and audio descriptions so as to help people with disabilities understand the content of the multimedia, video, or audio contextually

      • Ensuring that all intranet or Internet applications are compatible with assistive technology so that people with disabilities can access the digital content provided therein.

      Need help complying with the Section 508 compliance requirements?

      If you need any assistance complying with Section 508 compliance requirements, don’t suffer alone because our dedicated team of ADACP 508 compliance testers is always ready to help.

      If you have any questions about the Section 508 audit or any clarification you may require regarding the 508 compliance requirements, the team will provide you with the assistance you require. Simply call (626) 486-2201 today to schedule a 508 compliance testing or requirements consult.