Section 508 Refresh

The 508 Refresh – A New Way of Thinking

The 508 Refresh is an update and expansion of the original Section 508 Standards (published Dec. 2000, effective date, June 2001). The 508 Standards were revised jointly with guidelines for telecommunications equipment subject to Section 255 of the Communications Act. This has the effect of expanding the 508 universe.

The previous guidelines were oriented around technology, whereas the new guidelines are technology agnostic. This requires a new way of thinking about accessibility. The need for this is best illustrated by a simple example. In 1999, a Word file was composed of text: a document. In 2016, Word document can contain video, animation, and audio files. How can we define a Word document in 2016? Is it a video, a document, a multimedia file? Luckily, according to the 508 Refresh, it doesn't matter what we call that object.

Applying the refresh requires that we make the information at human/computer interface (where the person meets the machine) accessible. What this means is that we treat the content of the Word document, and not the file type -- so, if there is a video, the video (embedded in the Word document) must be captioned.

This paradigm shift will require some time and effort, but in the end, we will have a much more robust approach to accessibility.

Recent Presentations

Section 508 Advisory Group Meeting, 02-23-2016 Using WCAG 2 for Section 508 Compliance ( PPT - 2.8MB ) -  The presentation is focused on the 16 new Success Criteria. Presented by Mark Malamud (based on the presentation by Bruce Bailey and Katie Harritos-Shea, 12/15/2016)
  • WCAG 2.0 - 12 Guidelines & 38 Success Criteria ( PPT - 766KB)
  • WCAG 2.0 - New Success Criteria ( PPT - 765KB)

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