Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Section 508?

    A: ‘Section 508’ is an amendment that was added to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It requires Federal agencies to ensure that disabled federal employees and disabled members of the public are provided access to and use of information and data from a federal agency.

  2. How can I get Section 508 training?

    A: The Technology Training Program provides training on developing Section 508-compliant documents. A more comprehensive list of Section 508-related training can be found at Section 508 Training. The NIH Section 508 Program also provides some Section 508 training upon request such as: “Acquisition Process - Making Sure You Are in Compliance with Section 508.”

  3. Who can I contact for help?

    A: NIH staff should always contact their IC Section 508 Coordinator first for assistance in determining Section 508 requirements. There are also on-line resources that are available to help you develop compliant documents, obtain guidance on specific Section 508 topics, and tools that can be used to check whether a website or document is compliant – see Section 508 Resources. If neither option provides you with the help you need, send your question to: Section 508 Help.

  4. What do I do if I have a complaint about inaccessible content/EIT?

    A: NIH staff should contact their IC Section 508 Coordinator to discuss this issue and determine if the problem can be resolved.

  5. Are we exempt from complying with Section 508 if our office does not have disabled employees?

    A: All EIT that the Federal Government develops, procures, or maintains must be compliant. The disability status of current employees is not a factor.

  6. Do Federal agencies have to retrofit EIT that was purchased or produced prior to Section 508 becoming law (June 21, 2001)?

    A: No, unless the Federal agency is maintaining or updating their technology. For example, software applications or equipment (e.g., printers) purchased prior to June 21, 2001, do not have to be replaced. However, content changes that are made to a website after this date would need to meet the applicable Section 508 provisions.

  7. How do I determine which Section 508 standards apply when purchasing an EIT product or service?

    A: The General Services Administration (GSA) provides an on-line tool called the “Section 508 Wizard” that can guide you through the process of determining which standards apply to your EIT product or service. Information on Section 508 standards is also available from the U.S. Access Board (who develops the standards).

  8. Do I have to test the EIT products that I purchase for Section 508 compliance?

    A: No, the testing can be done by the vendor and that information should be available through a vendor-completed Vendor Product Accessibility Template (VPAT). The VPAT information provided by the vendor should be verified by the federal agency that the product either meets all applicable 508 provisions or it fails in identified areas, but is the most accessible product available. This should be documented by the agency.

    The following website provides a directory of vendors who post VPATs for their products or services

  9. How do I know if my website is Section 508 compliant and accessible?

    A: Scanning tools can be run against a website that will provide report 508 issues with the website. You can use tools such as WAVE, Accenture, etc. to check a website for Section 508 issues. (Note: HHS scans the NIH public websites every month. If your public facing site is not being scanned, please contact

    The website checking tools generally do not evaluate files posted on a site, such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, PDF, and multimedia files. These files will all need to be tested manually – see question #11 below.

  10. Do videos and multimedia products that I put on my website need to be captioned or audio described?

    A: Yes. All training or informational video and multimedia productions that are made available to federal staff or to the public must be captioned (words appear on the screen) for persons who are hard of hearing or deaf AND audio described (spoken words) for persons who are blind or have low vision. For more information, see:

  11. Do online documents (e.g., Word documents, PowerPoint presentations) need to be Section 508 compliant?

    A: Yes. Online documents that are made available on a federal website (intranet or Internet) need to meet the applicable technical web provisions under Section 508. For example, if the document contains images or graphics, then the images or graphics will need to have text descriptions that describe their meaning. HHS provides document standards and checklists that can be used during document development to help ensure that they are developed or remediated to be accessible.

  12. Are Contractors who provide products or services to NIH required to meet Section 508 standards?

    A: Yes, if the contractor is developing or providing an EIT product or service for the Federal government as part of a contract deliverable AND the contract requires Section 508 conformance. It is the responsibility of the Federal agency to include appropriate Section 508 requirements in an EIT contract and to check the product or service to make sure it is conforms to the standards before accepting the deliverable(s).

  13. What is the Section 508 Annual Report for Vendors that HHS requires of contractors? Who should be receiving them and what do we do with them?

    A: The Section 508 Annual Report for Vendors​Section 508 Annual Report for Vendors is intended to assist contracting officials and other persons in HHS in making assessments regarding the deployment of EIT and services with features that support accessibility. The report should be completed by a technical specialist for the manufacturer, developer, or vendor of the EIT Item(s). The HHS Annual Report instructions state that the report shall be provided to the Contracting Officer. 

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