DOC Accessibility and
Section 508

The DOC Accessibility and Section 508 website focuses on Section 508 Laws, Accessibility standards and guidelines and contains resources for understanding and implementing the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

This site also introduces the new Web Accessibility Content Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) with the goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations and governments internationally.

Note: This website is a continued work in progress. Content on this website will be edited as updates (as well as tools and resources) become available deemed beneficial to the department and in line with the department's EIT Accessibility policy.

Video: "Keeping Accessibility In Mind"

This video helps you understand how important it is to keep accessibility in mind when creating documents for the web.

What is Accessibility?

Accessibility means that electronic information is easy to use by people with

  • Limited mobility, including Quadriplegia and spinal cord injuries
  • Hearing impairments, such as hard or hearing and deafness
  • Visual impairments, like low vision, blindness, and color blindness
  • Cognitive disabilities, including dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Other disabilities, too

Accessibility also means that electronic information is easy to use on any electronic device, such as smart phones, tablets, laptops, and desk top computers. Finally, accessibility means that electronic information is compatible with assistive technologies.

Voluntary Product Accessibility Template

The purpose of the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, or VPAT™, is to assist Federal contracting officials and other buyers in making preliminary assessments regarding the availability of commercial “Electronic and Information Technology” products and services with features that support accessibility.  It is assumed and recommended that offerers will provide additional contact information to facilitate more detailed inquiries.

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology help people with disabilities understand electronic information. For example, people with visual impairments may use screen readers, screen magnifiers, or braille printers. People with limited mobility may use alternative keyboards. People with hearing impairments may use text telephones and video captioning. Please contact the Office Of Civil Rights if there is a need for Reasonable Accommodation.

Rehabilitation Act (Section 508)

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities and prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by Federal agencies, in programs receiving Federal financial assistance, in Federal employment, and in the employment practices of Federal contractors. The goals of these regulations, known as Section 508 are to eliminate barriers in information technology, open new opportunities for people with disabilities (PWD), increase collaboration, and encourage development of new technologies.

The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and Information technology. Under Section 508, agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public, and senior workers access to information that is comparable to the access available to others. Section 508 addresses every aspect of electronic documents, from tagging content and animated displays to TTYs and usability of keys and controls.

Summary of Section 508 Standards

The standards define the types of technology covered and set forth provisions that establish a minimum level of accessibility. The application section (1194.2) outlines the scope and coverage of the standards. The standards cover the full range of electronic and information technologies in the Federal sector, including those used for communication, duplication, computing, storage, presentation, control, transport and production. This includes computers, software, networks, peripherals and other types of electronic office equipment. The standards define electronic and information technology, in part, as "any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment, that is used in the creation, conversion, or duplication of data or information." Subpart A also explains what is exempt (1194.3), defines terms (1194.4), and generally recognizes alternatives to what is required that provide equal or greater access (1194.5). (Read More)

Why is Section 508 Important?

Main Basic Reason: Some peoples with disabilities (PWD) have no other way of interacting with people, accessing information, starting a career, getting an education, or contributing to society, other than through the web, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Assistive Technology (AT).

The Strategic Plan for Improving Management of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

The Strategic Plan for Improving Management of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires agencies to include a form as part of their Accessibility Statement to make it easier for users to submit a question or concern regarding accessibility issues on our websites.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Refresh

The U.S. Access Board is updating its Section 508 Standards and Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines together.  Issued under the Rehabilitation Act, the Section 508 Standards apply to electronic and information technology procured by the federal government, including computer hardware and software, websites, multimedia such as video, phone systems, and copiers.  The Telecommunications Act guidelines, which were issued under Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act, address access to telecommunications products and services, and apply to manufacturers of telecommunication equipment.  The Board is updating both documents jointly to ensure consistency in coverage of telecommunication technologies and products. (Read More)

Techniques for Creating Accessible Files

Techniques vary for making Accessible files in Microsoft Office that meet WCAG 2.0 guideline, refer to Making Files Accessible.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0)

Getting familiar with WCAG 2.0

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 is developed through the W3C process in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of proving a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally.

The WCAG documents explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. WCAG is measured by the Success Criteria (similar to checkpoints in WCAG 1.0).

Understanding WCAG 2.0 (Public Editor's draft 11 July 2013) guide is a reference in understanding and implementing Web content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

Office of the Chief Information Officer
U.S. Department of Commerce

Send questions and comments about this page to DOC Web Solutions
Page last updated August 8, 2014