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Chapter 3. Accessibility in Law and Poli... > Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Ac...

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

We promised a further look at Section 508, which has had such an impact on Web design practice in the United States. More than three years after its passage, we find an increase in awareness of accessibility but a high level of confusion about how the standards apply to various sectors of society. As part of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, Congress revised Section 508, which was originally an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Signed into law on August 7, 1998, the Section 508 amendment mandates that when “Federal departments or agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use Electronic and Information Technology (EIT), they shall ensure that the EIT allows Federal employees with disabilities to have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access to and use of information and data by other Federal employees.” [6]

[6] From the text of Section 508, accessed May 17, 2002, at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/508/508law.html.

The 1998 amendment therefore requires federal EIT to be accessible to people with disabilities, including federal employees and members of the public who may be seeking information from the Web sites of federal agencies. Section 508 standards are referenced throughout the book as we provide techniques to meet federal mandates that apply to Web-based applications. The chart at the front of the book provides an index to which book chapters contain information relevant to specific standards and other guidelines.


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