How does your business stack up against the Section 508 Standards regarding ADA compliance for telecommunication equipment and products? Compliance in website accessibility is a must now.

It’s hard to believe that the year’s grace given by the Access Board ends on January 18, 2018. Website owners are already getting calls threatening lawsuits for noncompliance when they haven’t even explored actions that address mandatory compliance.

This is not a case where the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigates each business and site before adverse action is taken. A complaint about the lack of proper accessibility for individuals covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act can only be disregarded when exceptions are disregarded.

Site owners must stand ready to: (a) show proof of compliance, or (b) document why they are not subject to the requirements of that section.

Discrimination Comes in Many Forms

Why does the Federal Government create so many laws and mandates forbidding discrimination against disabled individuals?

The short answer is lack of awareness.

Some disabilities, such as visual difficulties, are not immediately noticeable.

In addition to Section 508, three primary laws prohibit discriminating in communication. ADA is one. Access by people with disabilities to advanced communications products and services is required by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010.The Communications Act, Section 255, requires telecommunications services and products be made accessible.

Companies doing business with federal agencies must also take steps to comply with these directives. Healthcare, financial institutions, and private contractors are examples. Digital communications like software, apps, and emails must be 508 compliant, Since PDFs aren’t accessible by screen readers, they require 508 remediation.

New York and California Reinforce Reasons to Understand and Comply

Changing PDFs and Word documents to the most recent standards is challenging, yet essential. Short training classes are planned in New York for the review of ADA Titles II and III web regulations. Recent Department of Education and Department of Justice enforcement activities are reviewed along with state policy about web accessibility and Section 508’s impact. Attendees will benefit from discussions about the revised section, websites and electronic document design.

The State of California already has measures in place. California Government Code §11135(d), for example, requires fully accessible electronic and information technology if it is used or created by the state. Physical disabilities affecting user interaction on the web include:

  • hearing or vision loss.
  • cognitive disabilities.
  • limited manual dexterity.

State Universities support compliance with the use of software that evaluates website accessibility. State school students with disabilities can access online videos, files and documents thanks to Community Colleges resources.

State Government Code §11546.7 requires all state agencies and entities to have website compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA or a subsequent version, as well as Section 508, by July 1, 2019. A certification of compliance is required on each agency’s or entity’s home page.

Steps to Compliance

There’s a natural drive in many of us to do it all. The number of actions required to detect discrepancies and achieve complete 508 compliance is too much for one person. Why risk fines, penalties and the possible closure of your business because a step was missed? Reviewing communications and documents is a start to updating and corrections. Steps must be taken to be sure contractors are compliant, as well. Online assessment tools and an accessibility strategy are the basic steps to determining how to demonstrate the willingness to be compliant while the process is achieved.