What is Website Accessibility and 508 Compliance?
Website Accessibility and 508 Compliance are a hot topic among Health Centers across the Nation. Website accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites by people with disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users have equal access to information and functionality.
In 1998, Congress passed an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act, requiring that all websites created for the United States government or any entity receiving federal funding be accessible to everyone, in spite of individual disabilities. The amendment was “Section 508”, so often web accessibiltiy is referred to as “508 compliance.” The act covers anyone with a disability, but most often focuses on the following impairments:
- Visual Impairments: Blindness, various common types of low vision and poor eyesight, various types of color blindness;
- Hearing Impairments: Deafness or hearing impairments, including individuals who are hard of hearing;
- Physical Impairments: Difficulty or inability to use the hands, including tremors, muscle slowness, loss of fine muscle control, etc., due to conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, stroke;
- Cognative/Intellectual Impairments: Developmental disabilities, learning disabilities (dyslexia, dyscalculia, etc.), and cognitive disabilities of various origins, affecting memory, attention, developmental “maturity,” problem-solving and logic skills, etc.
The Association Communications Team is planning a webinar on this topic in May. The webinar, Introduction to Website Accessibility (508 Compliance), will cover what precisely 508 compliance is, and focuses the basics of accessibility: what groups fall under the banner of accessibility, what tools they use, and common misconceptions about the field of accessibility. You don’t have to be tech-minded or know html to gain valuable information from this webinar.
In the meantime, here are some links to resources and information:
- Section 508: What is It and Why is It Important to You? – Introduction to Section 508 and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
- 10 Things to Consider When Planning a Website Design (or Re-design)
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
- WebAim Introduction to Web Accessibility
- WebAim 508 Checklist
- WebAim Color Contrast Checker