Section 508 Gets an Update: New Web Accessibility Guidelines for Government Sites Take Effect in January
Updates for Section 508 accessibility legislation go into effect in January, creating new specifications for how federal agencies must make websites and other digital information channels navigable for users with disabilities, and experts say these requirements are poised to become the new standard for state and local governments as well.
Section 508 is a 2001 amendment to the Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973, designed to help sweeping accessibility legislation keep pace with the rapidly evolving nature of technology. Early this year, lawmakers passed a long-awaited refresh of Section 508 that goes into effect Jan. 18. The exact updates are complex and nuanced, but at a basic level they stipulate that federal government websites must be accessible for people with hearing and sight disabilities using screen readers and other assistive tech. The requirements also note that content should be accessible for people with cognitive, language and learning disabilities, while requiring adherence to WCAG 2.0 standards, a set of guidelines used throughout the world.