When communicating with federal agencies, there are a variety of laws and regulations that have been established over the last few decades to enforce equality and accessibility of information to all individuals, whether they were clients, patients, or employees. With the introduction and then further use of technology and the subsequent digitization of data, regulations were required to ensure that all individuals were provided equal access to the information regardless of format. Section 508 doesn’t apply to federal agencies only. It also impacts any company that does business with a federal agency. This includes private contractors, the financial industry, healthcare, many legal organizations, and others.
What is Section 508 Compliance?
An amendment found under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 508 is defined as providing the same information to all individuals despite any disabilities in an accessible technological format. All disabilities are covered under this compliance regulation, including both physical disabilities such as hearing and sight, as well as learning disabilities that require information to be supplied in an understandable format.
Whether the information is communicated with clients, employees, or patients; the individuals must be accommodated and allowed the same access to this information as someone who has no disabilities. Due to this compliance, agencies are utilizing quality hardware equipment, software applications, and other technology formats to accommodate the required compliance.
What is Needed to Comply with Section 508?
The communications and content covered under this compliance regulation include websites, emails, PDF documents, apps, and software associated with an agency. Any platform that has agency-related information and requires communication of any kind falls under this compliance. Before purchasing any IT equipment for your facility, it must be reviewed to ensure that it is 508 compliant. This includes everything from the technology hardware to the software used on the system once it is purchased.
Most IT developers are aware of Section 508 and often provide a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) to determine if the product meets compliance or not. This information is made available online for all officials and agencies to view if they are concerned about meeting the regulations. Any equipment that will be used to send out communication and/or house information should be compliance tested. The Section 508 website provides a list of the standards and tips that helps documentation and communication stay compliant.
Who does Section 508 Apply to?
Section 508 applies directly to the federal sector of any business, including medical facilities. If a business owner believes that their private business is not mandated to follow this requirement, then they must review their business counterparts. If their private business is being contracted by the federal sector under any capacity, they too are required to meet the same requirements as their federal counterparts. Any private partnerships, vendors, or contractors are obligated to uphold the same regulations for Section 508 in the same capacity as required by federal agencies.
Are You Section 508 Compliant?
If you are a director of a government agency or private business owner who works concurrently with the federal sector, then it is imperative that all of your communications and information meet Section 508 compliance immediately. Review the Revised 508 Standards available for information technology, and compare it to your current communications. These standards reference everything from documentation and emails, to websites, apps, and software.
To ensure all of your organization’s communications meet Section 508 compliance please do not hesitate to contact us today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.