Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. § 794d) requires federal agencies to develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology (EIT) that is accessible to people with disabilities – regardless of whether or not they work for the federal government. The U.S. Access Board establishes the Section 508 standards in order to implement the law.
Section 508 and Reasonable Accommodation (Section 501 and Section 504) are often confused with each other. Section 508 is about the EIT – the equipment and the tools that people use to access information or to do their jobs. Reasonable Accommodation is about the individual and what he/she needs because of his/her disability. Reasonable accommodation removes workplace barriers for individuals with disabilities.
Some people who access federal government information and resources may have disabilities. The federal government has employees with disabilities and any new employees could potentially have disabilities. A person can become disabled at any time either temporarily or permanently. The federal government makes its EIT accessible so everybody can access the government's information, because it is the right thing to do, and because it is the law.
Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) is any equipment or system that a federal agency uses to create, convert, duplicate or access information and data. Examples of EIT include, but are not limited to:
- Telephones, smart phones, and mobile devices
- Televisions, DVD players, and videotaped productions
- Internet and Intranet websites
- PDF documents
- Content on DVDs and CDs
- On-line training
- Webinars and teleconferencing
- Technical support call centers
- Remote access websites and tools
- Tablet, laptop, and desktop computers
- Software and operating systems
- User guides for software and tools
- Copiers, printers, and fax machines
- Lab equipment
When you develop, procure, maintain, or use EIT, "Think 508 first!"
- Determine if your product or service is EIT.
- If it is EIT, Section 508 applies.
- Decide what standards may be applicable.
- Write specific 508 requirements in contracts and IT workplans.
- Test and verify compliance with 508 standards before accepting deliverables, purchasing products and services, or launching websites, applications, or trainings.
- Maintain a dialogue with developers, contractors, and project teams, throughout the acquisition and life cycle process. If you have other Section 508 questions, contact the Section 508 Coordinators at Section508@epa.gov