What is 508 Compliance and how to make a website 508 Compliance?

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Website accessibility remains a hot topic of discussion among people due to its complexity. Wherever you’re standing, you would describe website accessibility as a complicated topic. Though, some landscapes for the accessibility becomes grueling than other parts of the United States. Since any legislation is not formed to focus on the national web accessibility, it becomes a bewildering thing to understand about the equality for web accessibility among the group of disabled Americans. However, several discussions end up on the twofold part of the legislation, namely, Section 508 (under the Rehabilitation Act) and Disabilities Act for the Americans.

When uncovering the fixtures and flaws attached to 508 compliance, the first thing should be clear with its meaning. This compliance features on the viewpoint among developers regarding the web access verity. To define a law that demands that all the websites (federal government sites) should be easily and safely accessible among the group of disabled people, 508 Compliance has come into emergence. Under this law, several types of issues are included which are about facilitating the disabled people. Almost 20% of people from America face disability issues, in which, about half of 20% of people are facing acute disability issues. When you ignore on helping your audience with good accessibility, it lowers down your views on the page, put a limit on your statistics for the page, and restrict your audience group.

If you’re working in the private, nonprofit or federal government sector, this doesn’t matter. The thing that matters is that all the best practices related to web accessibility should be adopted along with 508 compliance. Are you surfing about an overview of 508 compliance? If so, then you’ve reached your destination. Continue reading the article to know every single detail related to 508 Compliance.

508 Compliance: What do you understand by it?

In the US WRA (the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act, 1973), an amendment was introduced, namely, Section 508. This amendment relates to a federal law that is mandatory on all the information and electronic technology used, evolved, matured, or acquired by the federal government should become easily accessible to the group of people facing disabilities.
Therefore, 508 Compliance comprises of a website development which is easy to use for

the people facing certain disabilities such as seizure condition, deafness, vision limit, vision loss, and so on. In 2018, Section 508 appeared with a refresh, which sought to make the standards in America appear in a line along with the efforts taken internationally for the accessibility including WCAG 2.0 (World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Access Guidelines 2.0.

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Section 508: What are its elements?

All the regulations applicable under Section 508 are aimed at providing equal power of accessibility to the users categorized as disabled people. This also includes employees (federal), applicants in federal jobs (online), citizens (private citizens) filling forms, requesting any data or information, and so on.

In the US, Section 508 is categorized as the well-sorted legislation under federal accessibility. Though, its scope comes with a certain limit. All the rules and regulations are applied to the websites operating federally or websites having contracts with the agencies (federal) or gaining funds of the federal authority to complete a certain project. Any website which is operated by the public sector, local or state government does not come under the boundaries of Section 508 rules.

Section 508 Compliance standards: What rules are applicable under it?

When considering the scope, Section 508 relates to the accessibility of federal data or information among the disabled people by the online medium. Under the Rehabilitation Act, certain terms supervise:

1. Adjust or make all the required accommodations to help the disabled employees to carry out the functions attached to any particular role or designation.

2. Adjust to make all the required accommodations to help disabled applicants to fill in a job or apply for a specific job.

3. Make sure that all the disabled employees are availing equal privileges and other benefits.

4. Make sure that the employees are given the best software to help them access online information easily.

In the refresh taken in 2018, Section 508 demands several websites operated by federal medium reach or surpass the “Level AA Compliance testing with WCAG 2.0” issued rules and regulations and the norms adopted by the organizations (government) all over the globe. The main aim targets the content to make it meet the criteria used for easy accessibility which includes the following things:

1. Intuit: The websites should present all the information, content, and interfaces in such a manner that can be easily comprehended by the users facing hearing, vision, or other disabilities.

2. Useful: A website must have the interface and navigation which is useful for the users and those who choose a keyboard for navigation.

3. Comprehensible: The website should be designed in such a manner which can be read and comprehended by the users with abilities.

4. Vigorous: The website must showcase the content which can be accessed by every user standing under present norms.

Under refresh Section 508, it is not only about the product, but also addressing all the product functions. For instance, all the inscribed rules such as computers and telephones are considered separately to cover each product which is providing a similar obligation. Every device should be able to browse internet services and so on.

When searching out other upgrades taken in the refresh, it covers the clarification for all the technology (employed federally) along with the tools used for assistive purposes including screen readers. The web pages which are presented to the users or promotes any business agency (official) should meet all the standards mandated in the accessibility criteria.

How to make a website 508 Compliance?

Making a website 508 compliance is not a tough job. There exist several ways that can help turn your website appear under 508 Compliance to make it easily accessible among the disabled users. Catch up with all the relevant ways:

1. Choose subtitles and halt captions

In the closed or halt captions, all the text is presented in video or audio files along with components used in the audio for the users impaired with hearing. This technique is ruling for movies, videos, and TV. Under the screen, each transcript is provided for every word spoken. No doubt, it will consume huge time in creating or providing captions manually. So, it is replaced with the captions which are automatically generated and have less error as compared to the manual task. All over the world, you can find several companies that provide halt captions and transcripts for the podcast and videos. When you enable the closed captions either manually or automatically, it ensures that the users with hearing impaired can also view without any accessibility problem.

2. Proficiency of screen reader

All the websites should be developed keeping in mind that it can be easily accessed using a screen reader. People who are visually impaired or suffer from learning or cognitive disabilities, depend upon screen reader to check the webpage text. When a  screen reader is applied to a website, it allows the digitally presented text conversion into a unified form, attached with spreadsheets, documents, and so on.

3. Keyboard accessibility

Several users (impaired with motor disabilities) choose screen readers, which makes them dependent upon the visual indicators on the keyboard. It should be indicated programmatically, including focus needs for indication allocated by the browser which showcases the presence of interactions for dealing with assistive tech used by the people. For instance, a mouse click should be eliminated by the arrows, keys, or tabs for controlling the access to inputs, links, or buttons. Suppose, the tab can be applied when moving between different links which enables a user to locate the required content efficiently without much hassle. Also, navigation can be ordered by moving via any page section, landmark, header, elements, and so on. With the application of navigation through a tab, it becomes easy for the users relying on keyboard-only to enjoy easy navigation over a page.

4. Omit out the navigation links

This can be a beneficial step for the users relying on keyboard-only to omit out the content which appears repetitively such as “mega navigation” and shift to the content on any page section. This step can help the users to access a content’s key point on the webpage.

5. Descriptive text for images

Every image should be presented with a descriptive section for helping the visually-impaired users to access it. It can be done using an alternative image text which adds a context part of every image presented on the page. Also, it is crucial to check whether the text provided is descriptive and easily readable to the audience.

6. Texts on the videos

A short or brief description related to the video posted on any website helps to allow easy accessibility with the software used for screen readers.

7. Contrasting colors

Among the elements considered for accessibility, color can be easily neglected. Meaning can be added to the color, suppose error is represented in red color among several websites. The users who suffer from visual impairment face problems with the colors. Any field or content which is presented in a color-code should be described with an icon or label to help the impaired users avoid any issues in the accessibility of a website.

8. Avoid seizure with proper layout and color schemes

Most often, there exist some color combinations or flickers on the screen which can lead to the symptoms of seizure among users suffering from specific health disorders. Every webpage should be designed keeping in view that the flickering screen is avoided (within a frequency range of lowest 55 Hz to higher than 2 Hz).

9. Circumvent the hindrance on zoom

When a website is designed (especially the responsive websites), it is crucial to avoid disabling the zoom feature in the mobile device. About several users from the entire population who are visually impaired or suffer from astigmatism use zoom features. It is good to circumvent the hindrance on the zoom feature (on mobile devices) which would enable users to freely zoom whenever required. On the desktop, ensure whether the layout can be zoomed to 200% or not.

10. Pause in time

When there is a response attached with time, it is necessary to provide sufficient and valid time to the users. Most commonly, time pause is used whenever there is a need to fill-up personal details. The design team should be professional to provide sufficient time and attach a warning signal to detain the pause.

Is it possible to check whether a particular site is associated with the 508 Compliance?

Yes! There exist several free websites on the web which are specifically created with the purpose to allow users to test the website, whether it is suitable for 508 Compliance or not. Or it can be a web designing organization which can be helpful in the detailed check.

If you want to get your website a good rank, it is the best thing to adopt 508 Compliance on your site, irrespective of the fact whether you’re operating an agency or organization which is mandated to use 508 Compliance. Among the Americans, about 50% of them suffer from certain disabilities which makes it necessary for every website to use the compliant.

Section 508 Compliance test: How to check it?

Along with several considerations necessary for accessibility, applying a test using automated and manual procedure is also recommended to check whether Section 508 Compliance is used or not. When scanning a website using automated means, it can show the issues related to accessibility which would be a time-consuming activity when employing manual handwork and also demand a re-scan process after some period to check whether the site is appearing out of the compliance due to the changes made in the content.

Also, there exist several conditions when it is only a manual test that can correct the accessibility issues. It is also needed to check whether your applied solution is helpful for real users. In these issues, some of them include assistive tools, coding, screen reader, and other compatibility. 

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