Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, requires certain agencies to make all electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities(employee or public). Section 508 also outlines the minimums for how this is to be achieved. We go over what you need to do to bring your eCommerce implementation in line with Section 508.
Who needs to 508 compliance
Section 508 Compliance is directly mandated to be followed by Federal Agencies and their contractors, however a provision in the Americans With Disabilities Act mandates all state and local agencies, as well as anyone who receives federal funding, make their sites accessible to those with disabilities. Although the ADA doesn't have specific guidelines for compliance, it's generally accepted that this refers to 508 as well. Many websites that are required to be HIPAA compliant should also be Section 508 compliant
Why 508 compliance is important, even if you aren't required to be compliant
Just like real world storefronts, making your website accessible to those with disabilities is just good business
It's never a good business idea to shut out entire segments of the potential visitors or clients, and although Section 508 was implemented to regulate government websites, it's still a great starting point for those that don't fall under the regulations. Many of the section 508 requirements are best practice regardless. With the web moving to be more accessible for those with disabilities, you don't want to be left behind
The most common violation
90% of government websites tested for compliance in 2011 had violations. Surprisingly, most of those violations were incredibly simple fixes, and the very first requirement outlined by Section 508; Image alt-text, which are basically image descriptions. Especially with image based navigation this becomes a huge access block to people using a screen reader, and can completely make the rest of the site inaccessible.
The most difficult requirements
CGI multimedia, audio, and video all clock in as some of the most difficult requirements, along with CSS guidelines. With A/V and multimedia, each piece is required to have synchronized captions for any audio, as well as descriptive text for all video and image presentation.
The CSS guidelines require that any information presented on a page be "organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet". That CSS requirement is often overlooked, and is another problem that can completely derail access for someone with disabilities.
When 508 isn't enough
As we mentioned above, access for those with disabilities is just good business; and adherence to 508 requirements is a great place to start. But the 508 requirements as they are laid out are minimums, and it's entirely possible to adhere to the requirements and still not have an accessible site.
Clarity can help
If any of this seems daunting, or you realized in step 8 or 9 that you want to bring on a DNN Gold Partner to help with the upgrade, contact Clarity today for a free quote.
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