What is Section 508?
By Guðrún Gústafsdóttir
Section 508 is a part of the US Rehabilitation Act. This particular part of the law is making sure that IT-based solutions and web-based solutions can be used by all including disabled people.
Section 508 has traditionally been an independent set of guidelines, but a new version was developed in 2018 based on WCAG 2.0 Level AA and supplemental requirements.
Find out more about the update on the Section 508 website.
Our Accessibility tools check for compliance with the draft version of these. This means to be Section 508 compliant, WCAG 2.0 level AA conformance as well as the following is necessary:
Supplemental Section 508:
409 User Preferences
409.1 General. Applications, including web applications, shall conform to 409.
409.2 User Preferences. Applications shall provide a mode of operation that uses user preferences for platform settings for color, contrast, font type, font size, and focus cursor.
413 Authoring Tools
413.1 General. Applications that are used for creating documents or otherwise used for authoring shall conform to 413.
EXCEPTION: When content formats do not support the provisions of Chapter 5 (Electronic Documents), applications shall not be required to conform to 413 when working with files of those formats.
Authoring tools can also be used to create and publish content for use with telecommunications products or services. An example is an interactive voice response system (IVR) that includes software for the creation of content used to populate menu choices. These requirements for authoring tools enable this content to be accessible.
413.2 Authoring Tools. For all formats supported by the authoring tool, authoring tools shall provide a mode of operation to create or modify content that conforms to Chapter 5 (Electronic Documents).
1. Simple text editors that can only create or modify content in conforming formats by directly editing raw source code shall not be required to conform to 413.2.
2. The author shall retain the ability to override information required for accessibility.
413.2.1 Preservation of Accessibility Information in Format Conversion. When authoring tools include the ability to convert from one format to another or to save content in multiple formats, these authoring tools shall preserve the information required for accessibility to the extent that information is supported by the destination format.
413.3 Prompts. When programmatically determinable, authoring tools shall provide a mode of operation that prompts authors to create content that conforms to Chapter 5 (Electronic Documents).
413.4 Templates. When templates are provided with authoring tools, at least one template for each template type supported by the authoring tool shall conform to Chapter 5 (Electronic Documents).
604 Video Description and Transcripts for Video Content
604.4 Real-Time Video. Materials that contain real-time video, with or without audio content, shall provide real-time video description.
EXCEPTION: When real-time video is unattended and has the primary purpose of extending a visual experience, and a text alternative that provides descriptive identification is provided, video description shall not be required.
604.5 Multiple Visual Areas of Focus. Materials containing real-time or pre-recorded video content with synchronized audio content that display visual content in multiple areas of focus shall provide video description for visual content necessary for the comprehension of content.
607 User Controls for Captions and Video Description
607.1 General. ICT that displays video with synchronized audio content shall provide user controls for closed captions and video description that conform to 607 and Chapter 3 (Common Functionality).
607.2 User Controls Location. Location of user controls for closed captions and video description shall conform to 607.2.1 through 607.2.3.
607.2.1 Caption Controls. When controls are provided for the selection of volume, controls for the selection of captions shall be provided in at least one location that is comparable in prominence to the location of the controls for volume.
607.2.2 Dedicated Video Description Controls. When controls are provided for the selection of channels, the controls for the selection of video description shall be provided in at least one location that is comparable in prominence to the location of the controls for channels.
607.2.3 On-screen Menus. When an on-screen menu is used to control the selection of volume or channels, the controls for the selection of captions and video description shall be at the same menu level as the corresponding volume and channel selection.
608 Audio Track and Volume Control
608.1 General. ICT that displays and processes synchronized media shall conform to 608.
608.2 Independent Selection. When materials contain speech content that is provided on a separate track from the other audio tracks, audio-visual players and displays shall provide users with a mode of operation to select the speech track independently from the other audio tracks.
608.3 Volume Adjustment. When materials contain multiple audio tracks, audio-visual players and displays shall provide users with a mode of operation to adjust the volume of each audio track independently.