Access Board issues Section 508 accessibility standards

Access Board issues Section 508 accessibility standards

By Kevin McCaney

GCN Staff



DEC. 21'The Access Board today issued its much-anticipated standards for accessibility to government systems for people with disabilities, setting minimum requirements in six technical areas.

The law applies to the development, procurement or maintenance and use of the specified technologies. Agencies have six months-until June 21-to comply, unless they show that compliance would cause an undue burden, the Access Board said.

The standards cover:



  • Software applications and operating systems. These standards primarily are directed toward providing usability for people with vision impairments. They include providing alternative keyboard navigation and displays.

  • Web information and applications. Also designed mostly for people with vision impairments, these provisions call for the availability of assistive devices, such as screen readers and braille displays.

  • Telecommunications products. Designed to help people with hearing impairments, these standards require compatibility with hearing aids, cochlear implants, assistive listening devices and teletypewriters.

  • Video and multimedia products. These standards require captioning and audio descriptions for training and other multimedia presentation products used by agencies.

  • Self-contained and closed products. The section calls for agencies to build access features into closed systems, such as information kiosks, information transaction machines and fax machines, which contain embedded software but usually preclude the addition of assistive technology.

  • Desktop and portable computers. The section sets standards for keyboard controls, touch screens, use of biometric scanners and ports and connectors.

The Access Board developed the standards under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. More information on the standards can be found at www.access-board.gov.

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