Section 508 Standards
EPA is responsible for ensuring that all information and communications technology is accessible to disabled users. This involves designing websites, software, hardware, video and multimedia and telecommunications to meet Section 508 information and communications technology accessibility standards, as well as incorporating other techniques to ensure accessibility. The resources provided in this section include standards, guidelines, design tips, tools and other information to help you design products that are accessible to all users.
The Section 508 standards were developed by the US Access Board, an independent federal agency that works on accessibility for people with disabilities. The standards are published in the federal government's procurement regulations.
For more information about Section 508, please refer to one of the following sites:
- Acquisition Regulations
- Software Applications and Operating Systems
- Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications
- Telecommunications Products
- Video and Multimedia Products
- Self-contained, Closed Products
- Desktop and Portable Computers
Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)
Federal agencies must follow the FAR when they buy supplies and services. In 2001, the FAR was amended to require that purchased supplies and services meet 508 standards.
- Acquisition Regulations Resources
- Final FAR Rule for Implementing Section 508
- Buy Accessible Wizard (web-based tool to determine and document Section 508 requirements)
Software Applications and Operating Systems
What's Covered? - Operating systems and application software programs. ICT products that contain software as an integral part of their functionality. Such application software is bundled or sold with the product and typically executes on an attached network connected personal computer or server. Examples include digital copiers, scanners, smart card readers, printers, handhelds, fax machines and telecommunications devices (wired, analog and digital wireless and Internet). In addition, these requirements apply to telecommunications PBX with Telephone Application Programming Interface (TAPI) software that allows access to phone system functions from a computer workstation.
- Section 508 Standards - Software Applications and Operating Systems
- US Access Board Guide to the Standards - Software Applications and Operating Systems
Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications
What's Covered? - Websites (the information content as well as any associated applications and plug-ins) and web-based applications. These requirements also apply to web-based interfaces to other ICT products or systems. Web-based applications are also any aspect of a Web page with which the user must interact in order to operate the given function of a Web page. (For example, a streaming audio player delivers the content of a page to the user and, therefore, must be accessible to the user.) The standards apply to federal websites but not to private sector websites unless a site is provided under contract to a federal agency, in which case only that website or portion covered by the contract must comply.
- Section 508 Standards - Web-based intranet and internet information and applications
- US Access Board Guide to the Standards - Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications
Please Note: The US Access Board is in the late stages of revising its Accessibility Standards through the formal rulemaking process. According to the US Access Board, it is strongly anticipated that the 508 Standards for websites will be harmonized with the internationally recognized standards for Web accessibility, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) Exit published by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). The §1194.5 Equivalent Facilitation clause of Section 508 explicitly permits agencies to use alternatives (e.g., WCAG 2.0) that result in substantially equivalent or greater access. If appropriate, accessibility can be provided using the WCAG 2.0 if it provides better accessibility instead of using the current Section 508 standards.
What's Covered? - Devices including wires, analog and digital wireless and internet-based products; also includes devices such as PBX (in-house electronic exchanger) and telephone answering machines/systems.
- Section 508 Standards - Telecommunications Products
- US Access Board Guide to the Standards - Telecommunications Products
Video and Multimedia Products
What's Covered? - Audio/Visual equipment (both legacy analog and were digital systems and personal computers - desktop, notebook, handheld, etc.) as well as the content itself (video/DVD programs, narrated slide productions, computer-generated presentations, etc.).
- Section 508 Standards - Video and Multimedia Products
- US Access Board Guide to the Standards - Video and Multimedia Products
Self-contained, Closed Products
What's Covered? - Products include, but are not limited to, information kiosks and information transaction machines, copiers, printers, calculators, fax machines and other similar types of products. Products that generally have embedded software and are commonly designed in such a fashion that a user cannot easily attach or install assistive technology.
- Section 508 Standards - Self Contained, Closed Products
- US Access Board Guide to the Standards - Self Contained, Closed Products
Desktop and Portable Computers
What's Covered? - Personal computers (desktop, notebook, portable, including displays). These requirements also apply to handhelds, workstations and servers.
- Section 508 Standards - Desktop and Portable Computers
- US Access Board Guide to the Standards - Desktop and Portable Computers