As technology advances rapidly, ensuring everyone has access to digital content is more important than ever. That’s where Section 508 compliance testing comes in – it’s the process of evaluating whether websites and other online materials are accessible to people with disabilities. In this brief article, we’ll explore what Section 508 is, why it matters, and how you can ensure your website meets these essential standards. So let’s dive in!
What is Section 508 compliance testing?
Many types of compliance testing can be performed on web-based applications. Still, Section 508 is a specific type of test that assesses whether or not a website or application meets the guidelines outlined in the U.S. Section 508 law. This law dictates that all electronic and information technology the federal government procures must be accessible to people with disabilities. For a website or application to be considered compliant, it must meet certain functionality, design, and content criteria.
Functionality-wise, a compliant website or application must be used with assistive technologies such as screen readers, voice recognition software, and braille displays. Additionally, navigating the site or application must be possible using only keyboard input. Design-wise, a compliant website or application must have a consistent layout throughout all its pages, legible text, and sufficient color contrast between foreground and background colors. Lastly, in terms of content, a compliant website or application must include the following:
- Alt text for all images and non-textual elements.
- Transcripts for audio/video content.
- Captions for live audio/video content.
Compliance testing is essential because it helps ensure that websites and applications are accessible to everyone regardless of disability status. By ensuring that digital resources are accessible to all users, we can help create a more inclusive society where everyone can participate equally in the digital world.
Why is it important?
It is essential to test for compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act because this law requires that all electronic and information technology procured by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities. Many commercial off-the-shelf products do not comply with this law, so it is vital to test for compliance before procuring them.
How is it done?
There are generally two ways to perform Section compliance testing:
1) through an automated tool or 2) manually.
If you are using an automated tool, you will typically need to provide the tool with a copy of the Section document (or at least the relevant section(s)) and any other necessary information, such as the location of your website’s files. The tool will then analyze your website and produce a report detailing any areas that do not comply with the guidelines in the Section document.
Manual testing is often done in conjunction with automated testing but can also be done independently. When testing manually, you must review the Section document and check each guideline against your website. This can be a time-consuming process, but it allows for a more thorough compliance analysis.
Who needs to comply with Section 508?
Government agencies and contractors that develop or procure electronic and information technology (EIT) must ensure that this technology is accessible to people with disabilities in compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Most companies are unaware of their obligations under Section 508 and the potential benefits of making their EIT accessible. By ensuring that their EIT complies with Section 508, companies can make their products and services available to a larger market, including people with disabilities. In addition, complying with Section 508 can help companies avoid costly litigation.
What are the penalties for non-compliance?
Several penalties can be imposed for non-compliance with Section compliance testing requirements. These include:
- Civil monetary penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation
- Revocation of approval to participate in Section compliance testing
- Disqualification from participating in Section compliance testing in the future
- Imposition of other sanctions as deemed appropriate by the Department of Health and Human Services
Section 508 compliance testing is essential to ensure that digital products are usable by those with disabilities. By evaluating websites and software applications for Section 508 compliance, organizations can ensure their products meet the highest standards of accessibility and create a better experience for all users. Testing should be completed regularly to remain compliant, so make sure you have a process in place for regular review. With these tips, your organization can ensure its digital products are accessible to everyone!