Accessibility and Section 508
The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed by the United States Congress in 1990 to ensure “access to employment, state and local government programs and services, access to places of public accommodations, transportation, non-profits service providers and telecommunications” for people with disabilities. Websites of state and local governments fall in the category of “public services” under Title II of the ADA, which means that extra steps have to be taken to ensure that people with disabilities can still access the resources of those websites.
Section 508 (1998) is part of the rehabilitation act and requires that when Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, Federal employees with disabilities have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access and use by Federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. Section 508 also requires that individuals with disabilities, who are members of the public seeking information or services from a Federal agency, have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to the public who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency.
WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines)
The W3C is an international, vendor-neutral group that determines the protocols and standards for the web. They create the specifications for HTML, CSS, etc. The goal of Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is to develop these accessibility standards. WAI working groups develop accessibility standards for web browsers, authoring tools, evaluation tools, and web content, to name a few. The Web Content Work Group’s standards are called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and are divided in to three levels of conformance: A, AA, and AAA.
The State of Hawaii strives to meet the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard and the Web Accessibility Initiative Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 techniques. Full guidelines can be found at each link.
The following are several external resources and tools available to web managers to assist them in meeting accessibility requirements.