10.3 Section 508

10.3.1 Overview

As specified in § 2.2-2012(B) of the Code of Virginia, procurement of all IT must be made in accordance with the electronic and information technology accessibility standards of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. §794(d).

Section 508 refers to a statutory section in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (found at 20 U.S.C. 794d). The primary purpose of Section 508 is to provide access to and use of government electronic and information technology (EIT) by individual with disabilities. Section 508 requires federal agencies to ensure that their procurement of electronic and information technology takes into account the needs of all end users – including people with disabilities. The statutory language of section 508 is available online by accessing http://www.section508.gov.

Section 508 enhances the ability of federal employees with disabilities to have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided by others. EIT products include products that store, process, transmit, convert, duplicate, or receive electronic information. Examples of included products are copiers, computers, fax machines, information kiosks, software, operating systems, websites and telecommunications products.

Section 508 requires that, when agencies develop, procure, maintain or use information technology - (1) individuals with disabilities who are employees have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access to and use of the information and data by employees who are not individuals with disabilities; and (2) individuals with disabilities who are members of the public seeking information or services from an agency to have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access to and use of the information and data by such members of the public who are not individuals with disabilities. Comparable access is not required if it would impose an undue burden on an agency. The law is not limited to assistive technologies used by people with disabilities, but applies to the development, procurement, maintenance, or use of all electronic and information technologies.

Currently, the Section 508 Access Board The Board is updating the Section 508 standards jointly with its guidelines for telecommunications equipment subject to Section 255 of the Communications Act. On February 18, 2015, the Board released a proposed rule updating the 508 Standards and the 255 Guidelines. These can be reviewed at https://www.section508.gov/sites/default/files/access-board-proposed-rule-2015-accessible-final.pdf.