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United States Federal Government 


The Access Board has merged and updated the requirements for the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines (255) and Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards (508).   It was published in the Federal Register on January 18, 2017.

Proposed changes

The following are the notices on the OMB’s website having to do with accessibility regulations as of January 20, 2017.

  • DOJ: Revisions to the regulation implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) “to expressly address the obligations of public entities [i.e. state and local government] to make the websites they use to provide programs, activities, or services or information to the public accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities under the legal framework established by the ADA.” Title II revisions were split out from RIN 1190-AA61.  This notice, RIN 1190-AA65 pertains to changes for Title II, state and local government.
    As of January 20, 2017, the Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) is due in July 2017
  • DOJ: Revisions to the regulation implementing Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) “to expressly address the obligations of public accommodations to make the websites they use to provide their goods and services to the public accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities under the legal framework established by the ADA.”  Title II revisions were split out.  This notice, RIN 1190-AA61, pertains to changes for Title III, "public accommodations", i.e., private sector sites.
    As of January 20, 2017, the NPRM date is still "To be determined".

Even though the DOJ's revisions to regulations for the ADA are still in process, the DOJ has consistently maintained that websites are covered by the ADA, and they are pursuing lawsuits against non-compliant websites.

Rehabilitation Act, Section 508, §1194

 In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, open new opportunities for people with disabilities, and encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. ‘794 d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to access available to others.

Section 508 website -

This comprehensive resource on federal web accessibility requirements includes links to online training.

Social Security Administration - SSA's Guide to Applying Section 508 Standards (Word doc)

The Social Security Administration (SSA) wrote a document that helps vendors develop products that meet Section 508 requirements.  It provides examples of the tests that the SSA uses in evaluating products for Section 508 compliance.  It can be used as a guide in determining Electronic Information Technology (EIT) Accessibility Requirements.

United States Postal Service - AS-508-A, Section 508 Technical Reference Guide

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) developed a technical handbook for Section 508 compliance that provides the tools for understanding, achieving, and maintaining Section 508 compliance.  It contains the technical standards by which the USPS test for accessibility, including Section 508 legal provisions, rationale, requirements, testing, and pertinent references.

Communications Act of 1934, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996

Section 255 of the Communications Act requires telecommunications service providers and equipment manufacturers to ensure that their services and equipment are accessible to individuals with disabilities. This includes interconnected voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service providers and equipment manufacturers.  Where access is not readily achievable, Section 255 requires manufacturers and service providers to make their devices and services compatible with peripheral devices and specialized customer premises equipment that are commonly used by people with disabilities.  The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) (see below) added additional accessibility obligations to the Communications Act such as including advanced communications services and mobile phones.


American with Disabilities Act - ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed in 1990, is civil rights legislation governed by the Department of Justice. The goal of this law is to make sure that people with disabilities can have an equal opportunity to participate in programs, services, and activities. It is important to note that the ADA does not deal directly with the accessibility of the Internet as it was passed before Internet use was widespread. The Department of Justice has held that the ADA covers websites since at least 1996.  They issued guidance for public entities in 2003. The two major sections in the ADA that would apply to website accessibility are:

  • Title II, which states that communications with persons with disabilities must be "as effective as communications with others" [28 C.F.R. ss 35.160 (a)] and
  • Title III, which deals with public accommodation of people with disabilities.

On Friday, July 23, 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder signed final regulations revising the Department’s ADA regulations, including its ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The official text was published in the Federal Register on September 15, 2010 (corrections to this text were published in the Federal Register on March 11, 2011).


21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA)

The CVAA has two sections.  Title I ensures communications access using Broadband is fully accessible to people with disabilities, such as making sure smart phones can be used by people who are blind, visually impaired, or use hearing aids.  Equipment manufacturers are responsible for compliance.

Title II addresses requirements for video programming on television and the Internet. For example, programs shown on television with captioning will be required to include the captioning when they are re-shown on the Internet.

Both titles include provisions for access to emergency information, such as the next generation of 911 services and emergency information on television.


Section 508 Comparisons

  • Comparison of Section 508 to MA Enterprise Accessibility Standards
  • Comparison Table of WCAG 2.0 to Existing 508 Standards
    "The WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria are more explicit than the existing 508 Standards.  Careful attention has been given to ensure that the Success Criteria are written as objectively testable requirements.  In addition, unlike the existing 508 Standards, WCAG 2.0 is written in a way that is technology neutral and is therefore directly applicable to a wide range of content types and formats.  We are providing this table comparing the WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA Success Criteria and the corresponding requirements in the existing 508 Standards to clarify the differences.  Where a WCAG 2.0 success criterion is new and does not correspond to a provision in the existing 508 standards, it addresses a deficiency with the existing 508 Standards as identified by the developers of WCAG.  In most cases, agencies with Section 508 compliance testing processes have adapted their procedures to address these accessibility concerns."

Other States

State E & IT Accessibility Initiatives

This is a listing compiled by the Georgia Tech Research Institute, Electronic Systems Lab, Human Systems Engineering Branch. It seems that it has not been updated since around 2009. For instance, I sent updates for the Massachusetts information a while back. Although I got a response, the edits have not been made. Despite this, it is the only listing of its kind.


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