Section 508 Compliance Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Brief History of Section 508
In 1998, United States Congress added an amendment known as section 508 to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Rehabilitation Act authorizes grant programs for vocational
rehabilitation, independent living, supported employment,and client assistance. The act also allows extensive research to be conducted by programs and institutes that primarily focus on
individuals with disabilities.
Section 508 requires all Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to individuals with disabilities. This includes making website
information that is accessible to the public to be also accessible to employees and people with disabilities.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Organic listings are search results that are produced on search engines based on their relevance, not as paid advertisements. The goal for SEO is to rank high in
search engines based on how frequent or early organic search results appear on the search engine’s listings.
Semantic mark-up is the use of XHTML or HTML to give meaning to elements on a web page. This helps machines and humans interpret content by suggesting what the content presented within the tags is. Semantic mark-up was designed to distinguish between a web page’s outline(paragraphs, listings, headings, etc.) and its visual presentation (bold, italics, color, etc) by using Cascading Style Sheets.
Semantic mark-up is important because it helps produce efficient coding and allows for search engine visibility. This is important with SEO because search engines extract meaning and content by how the content is marked
up in XHTML or HTML.
As mentioned above, Section 508 was an important amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to allow EIT accessibility to individuals with disabilities. Section
508 was designed to remove all barriers in information technology in order to access information easier. Semantic mark-up is important to website accessibility because it provides for equal
access to information to all users. For example, if XHTML or HTML is used correctly, text descriptions used for images allow for easier access to blind users using text-to-speech software. This
helps them understand the content that is presented on the webpage.
How is this site accessible?
This site complies with section 508 because it uses semantic markup to describe the images provided on the website to assist with text-to-speech software. The site is also laid out in a way that it is easy for users to navigate from page to page. It is aesthetically pleasing because it uses white space as well. By using semantic markup, the tags describe what each element of the website is and uses relevant tags, such as “li” tags, to denote that a section of the website is not a paragraph but a numbered list.