Guiding you down the path to an accessible web site, complying with Section 508

What is accessibility?

Accessibility, in regards to web software, is the extent to which users with disabilities can access the content and functions of a web site.

What is Section 508 Compliance?

There is a bit of a mystery surrounding the phrase '508 Compliance.' In general it refers to Section 508 of The Rehabilitation Act passed by the United States federal government in 1998. It requires federal agencies to make their electronic information accessible to those with disabilities. It also gives power to a federal agency, the Access Board, to establish accessibility standards for electronic information.

The section, Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications (1194.22), defines 16 guidelines (a-o) for web sites that make them accessible. When government agencies seek out vendors, the level of accessibility built into the product is a factor that determines if the vendor's product can be used.

Companies need to build web applications that comply with the standards of the Access Board so their products are not at a disadvantage in the marketplace. As the government agency tasked with defining accessibility standards, the Access Board's standards are the minimum level of accessibility that companies must incorporate. Current standards are based upon Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0. These standards are set to be refreshed in 2011 and harmonized completely with the WCAG 2.0 recommendation made by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in December 2008. There are three levels of WCAG 2.0 success: 'A', 'AA' and 'AAA.' A web page must achieve an 'AA' level of success to be considered accessible by the Access Board standards. If any aspect of the web page or functional process across multiple web pages is less than 'AA,' the page or pages cannot be considered accessible.

The major technologies involved in creating accessible web-based products are: HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Server-side technologies such as C# and Java may be involved in the generation of client-side scripts and markup. However, ultimately, complying with Section 508 standards pertains explicitly with the accessibility of the interface created by rendered client-side code.

My company needs help with Section 508, can you help?

Yes. We offer 508 compliance consulting and services.

Will my web applications look plain or be less functional if they are made more accessible?

No. We can integrate accessibility into your most sophisticated Web 2.0 / Ajax web applications.

What is a11y?

a11y stands for 'accessibility.' The number 11 refers to the number of letters omitted.