Finally! I can only imagine how my fellow accessibility advocates in the United States are celebrating today.
After almost ten years of work, the Section 508 Refresh of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 has been published in the U.S. Federal Register today.
The rule updates guidelines for information and communication technology purchased by the federal government, which covers such items as:
- Electronic documents
- Phone systems
The final rule also applies to Section 255 of the Communications Act of 1934.
Effective March 20, 2017, the rule states that:
compliance with the section 508-based standards is not required until January 18, 2018. Compliance with the section 255-based guidelines is not required until the guidelines are adopted by the Federal Communications Commission.
What Does This Mean?
With today’s final publication of the Section 508 Refresh rule, their guidelines are brought in line with current standards for accessible websites: the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.
Which means Section 508 has been updated for the first time in 17 years!
And the new Section 508 guidelines refer to the WCAG 2.0 A and AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements throughout the publication.
I remember when I first learned about the Section 508 guidelines, back when I was coding websites using tables for layout.
Yes, it was that long ago!
As I was planning to write about several major changes you need to be aware of, Deque Systems published their Section 508 post, highlighting the changes, effective dates, and how the changes affect organizations.
Deque has done such a great job of explaining the changes, I’ll point you over to their summary.
Also, 3Play Media has published their post summarizing the Section 508 refresh changes, with more information on what it means for closed captioning and audio descriptions.
Together, the posts provide a good overview of the Section 508 Refresh changes.
Now What? How Can I Learn More About the Section 508 Refresh?
Glad you asked! The U.S. Access Board is holding a free Section 508 Refresh webinar on February 2, 2017 to provide updates to the standards.
Access Board accessibility specialists Bruce Bailey and Timothy Creagan will lead the webinar.
Pre-registration is required for the webinar. Note: you need to create an account with the Great Lakes ADA Center in order to register for the webinar.