Accessibility Guidelines

Title III of the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) is all about ensuring that places of public accommodation are accessible to people with disabilities.  Is the Internet a place of public accommodation? That is the question that has been asked over the past few years and argued about in court.

Today there is no specific published technical recommendation that defines how the ADA is applied to the Internet but many public and private sector organizations have been sued for the inaccessibility of their websites under the ADA.

The United States Access Board is currently updating the Section 508 standards.  Its motivation is very sound.  Technology that changes with a blink of an eye, products that overlap each other, international standards that need to be applied conjointly, and a perpetual call for a positive economic impact are behind the Section 508 Refresh, which is expected to be released the first quarter of 2014.

Today, WCAG 2.0 is formally recognized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as an ISO/IEC JTC 1 Standard.  ISO is the world’s largest developer and publisher of International Standards and is a network of the national standards institutes of some 164 countries as of July 2012.

For more information, see:

ISO/IEC 40500:2012

The content of ISO/IEC 40500 is freely available from the W3C WAI website and is also available for purchase from the ISO catalog.  Note: this is exactly the same content and there are no differences.  The WCAG 2.0 guidelines will continue to be published for free. 

The WCAG 2.0 guidelines covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content accessible. The approval of WCAG 2.0 as an ISO standard allows countries and organizations more easily adopt the guidelines.  Judy Brewer, Director of the Web Accessibility Initiative at W3C notes, "The ISO/IEC imprimatur increases the avenues for adoption of W3C technology and guidelines.  In some countries, policies require that nationally adopted technical standards must be ISO/IEC. Formal approval by JTC 1 of WCAG 2.0 will increase deployment, reduce fragmentation, and provide all users with greater interoperability on the web."

Supporting resources from W3C:

The Veteran's Administration is committed to accessibility and dedicated to providing people with disabilities equal access to public access to information that is comparable to access available to others.

In the past, the Vetern's Administration Section 508 Program Office has allowed products to be deployed as non-conformant, provided a schedule for remediation was submitted.  To meet the needs of Veterans and the public, they are now requiring compliance for all products and will be validating all products for accessibility.  They have cancelled all waivers of compliance to Section 508 and are requiring that all products be fully accessible by Jan 1, 2013. 

View the Department of Veterna Affairs memorandum for more details.

For the past few years, Google has been improving the overall accessibility in Google Docs, Sites and Calendar.  Google just released an update describing the enhancements in these products and said that they are committed to moving the state of accessibility forward in their applications.

Some of the enhancements include:

  • Improved focus handling
  • Enhancements to keyboard access and navigation
  • NVDA support for screen reader users
  • Enhanced explore-by-touch capabilities and keybaord/trackpad navigatibility in mobile apps



The Department of Justice(DoJ) just published the latest Section 508 Report to the President and Congress report.  The DoJ talks about the long history of ADA and President Obama's committment to removing barriers that remain in our society and exclude people with disabilities and how compliance with Section 508 can help meet the President's objectives by removing many of the barriers to EIT that prevents or impedes access for people with disabilites.  

Section 508 requires the Attorney General to submit to the President and Congress reports containing information on and recommendations regarding the state of federal department and agency compliance with Section 508, including actions regarding individual complaints. Out of the 89 agencies who responded to the survey:

  • A little more than 50 percent of agency components said they had established a Section 508 policy
  • Nearly 70 percent had appointed a Section 508 coordinator
  • Nearly 60 percent did not provide Section 508 training to their staff
  • Less than 50 percent incorporated Section 508 requirements in each procurement solicitations

Agencies reported that the lack of resources, awareness and training were the most common challenges in complying with Section 508.

The DoJ recommends that agencies:

  • Establish Section 508 policies and procedures
  • Appoint coordinators and establish Section 508 offices or programs
  • Provide Section 508 training to staff
  • Ensure that EIT used in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance
  • Develop procurement policies in line with Section 508
  • Perform regular testing on products and websites for compliance
  • Document procurment decisions
  • Establish procedures to specifically address Section 508 complaints
  • Publish Web accessibility statements

Interactive Accessibility can help you meet these recommendations.  Call us today for your free consultation - 978-443-0798.

Have you heard of PDF/UA?  It is a complementary set of guidelines to the WCAG 2.0 success criteria and is a technical standard that provides a consistent means for achieving accessible PDF documents.  Recently the AIIM published a mapping, Achieving WCAG 2.0 with PDF/UA, to help people understand the alignment between the two sets of guidelines. 

What is ADA Compliance?

The Department of Justice (DOJ) published the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design in September 2010. These standards state that all electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities.

The ADA differs from Section 508 regulations, which are an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and apply to all information technology, including computer hardware, software and documentation.


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