All of the new web sites we design and old websites we remodel are created as 508c compliant.
Section 508 refers to the portion of the United States Federal Rehabilitation Act discussing equal access to information technology for people with disabilities. Within this law, all government agencies and contractors working with government agencies are currently required by law to be 508c compliant. This means that any entity, be it corporation, small business, or sole proprietor doing business with any government agency, be they local or federal, are required by law to have a 508c compliant website if the company offers a website for any aspect of its business.
What is 508c and What is it Based on?
508 c is a set of design rules which guarantee that visitors which are visually or otherwise impaired will have equal access to your website. The criteria for web-based technology and information are based on access guidelines developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium. Many of these provisions ensure access for people with vision impairments who rely on various assistive products to access computer-based information, such as screen readers, which translate what’s on a computer screen into automated audible output, and refreshable Braille displays. Certain conventions, such as verbal tags or identification of graphics and format devices, like frames, are necessary so that these devices can “read” them for the user in a sensible way as well as simply being good web site design practices. The standards do not prohibit the use of web site graphics or animation. Instead, the standards aim to ensure that such information is also available in an accessible format. Generally, this means use of text labels or descriptors for graphics and certain format elements. (HTML code already provides an “Alt Text” tag for graphics which can serve as a verbal descriptor for graphics). This section also addresses the usability of multimedia presentations, image maps, style sheets, scripting languages, applets and plug-ins, and electronic forms.
The standards apply to Federal web sites AND to private sector web sites, given that these sites are under contract to a government agency. Accessible sites offer significant advantages that go beyond access. For example, those with “text-only” options provide a faster downloading alternative and can facilitate transmission of web-based data to cell phones and personal digital assistants.
For more information about making your business website 508c compliant, make sure to locate a reputable Web Accessibility Consultant.