Accessibility Standards and the Section 508 law

 © Floyd Winters 03/30/06, 2014

“In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual's ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals.

The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. ‘ 794d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others.

How to Comply in Brief:

A. The Web page should be organized logically left-to-right and top-to-bottom so that screen readers for the visually impaired can correctly read and navigate the page.

B. Avoid using colors that do not provide much contrast - light backgrounds are better. To help the visually impaired. Color blind, and old people like me, avoid using colors that are hard to read on the background such as:

Avoid red text on blue background

Avoid blue text on black background

Avoid Green and Red if it would cause a problem in interpretation for someone who may be color blind.

C. The Web weaver should include a text equivalent for every non-text element such as graphical, audio, or video files

Example 1: use the alt attribute for images so alternate text appears when users rests their mouse on the image – which is also reader by screen readers.

Sample Code:

<img src="images/SCF.gif" alt="SCF logo">

Example 2: Provide a text transcript link for audio and/or video files

Sample Code:

<a href="Media/">
<img src="Images/Koi.jpg" alt="Image links to Koi Pond video"></a>
<a href="KoiPond.txt" Title="Video Transcript">[T]</a>

(The [T] above is just text for a hyperlink to the Transcript)


D. Information stored in tables should be well identified with row and column headers either in first row or using the TH tag.

Sample Code:

<th colspan="3">This Header is the first row; over 3 data columns</th>

Helpful Sites

Dreamweaver -
This site covers Dreamweaver accessibility features. It also includes instructions and screenshots.

Bobby Online -
This site will check HTML files for Accessibility standards

W3C Validators -
This site will check HTML files for conformance to the W3C HTML standards

Screen Reader Simulation -