Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act and strengthened provisions covering access to information and data in the Federal sector for people with disabilities. As amended, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that Federal agencies ensure the electronic and information technology that is developed, procured, maintained, or used by an agency is accessible for people with disabilities - both employees and members of the public.

Section 508 is critical because many people with disabilities encounter barriers when using electronic and information technology. Some barriers include:

  • Windows-based software and internet applications often require a mouse
  • Internet often uses sound and/or pictures
  • Touch screens rely on color
  • Monitors flicker at a rate that is difficult for some people to see
  • Voicemail systems are not usable by people who are deaf
  • Training videotapes are not accessible for blind and/or deaf people
  • Fax machines and copiers have LCDs that are inaccessible
  • Computer hardware is not compatible with assistive technology

CAP provides technical assistance to address these concerns and assist in understanding Section 508 requirements. Specific support includes:

  • Technical assistance to Federal organizations;
  • Demonstrations of assistive technology and accessible environments at the CAP Technology Evaluation Center (CAPTEC) in the Pentagon;
  • Assistance to the information technology community in understanding Section 508 requirements;
  • Assistance to procurement organizations in learning accessibility requirements for acquisitions; and
  • Assistance to office automation organizations to ensure help desk understanding of accessibility requirements and compatibility issues.