Should You Be Concerned with 508 Compliance Testing?

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A pair of glasses resting on top of print documents.

Section 508 sets accessibility standards and is an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. These standards affect all federal government departments and every organization that receives funding or works with federal departments through contracts. This includes education, healthcare, financial, and other industries.

What is covered under Section 508?

There are a lot of communications and technology covered under Section 508, including:

  • PDFs
  • Computer software and hardware
  • Mobile apps
  • Websites
  • Videos, multimedia and all other digital content
  • Kiosks

If you fail to remove the barrier of access from any one of these or any of the other digital communications covered under Section 508, your company is violating federal law and restricting your customer’s ability to get important information and preventing them from being independent.

Why PDFs are not accessible.

Portable Document Forms (PDFs) are print-ready and cannot be altered. However, unlike other document formats, PDFs are not accessible to screen readers. This means they fail the accessibility standards guidelines and need to be remediated.

Read our related blog, The Facts on Accessible Documents and 508 Compliance for Banks.

Should you be concerned with 508 compliance?

Section 508 compliance is absolutely critical for your company, especially if you conduct any business with the federal government or receive any federal funding. How do you know if your company is in compliance? The best way to guarantee 508 compliance is to test all of your company’s affected documents, websites, apps, and content.

Apple Macbook, iPad and iPhone resting on a wooden tabletop.

How should you test for 508 compliance?

There are a number of ways to test your company’s 508 compliance, but they are not all equally effective and compliance is your responsibility. You can perform the test internally, but this is not the recommended route. It may be hard for you or your team to assess every public-facing document your company offers, compliance issues can be missed and Section 508 requires all aspects of information to be compliant, not just a percentage.

Alternatively, you can purchase a 508 compliance testing tool online. Testing software will scan and evaluate your website and all online content and provide you with recommendations to fix accessibility issues, but this method is not 100% reliable and often the content can become altered making the document not effective. This method is more reliable than an internal scan, but there are no guarantees that the content is in the proper reading order and is complete.

Section 508 sets complicated standards that go beyond providing an accessible website. Effective accessibility compliance includes all of your business documents that needs to be maintained through the remediation process. This is often overlooked with website development and website compliance.

The best way to ensure 508 compliance is to partner with a trusted accessibility expert. Working together, you and and an accessibility partner can create an effective plan on how to achieve and maintain 508 compliance.

Accessibility is a customer experience opportunity.

508 compliance ensures that all of your clients have equal access to the materials your company produce. By being in compliance you are helping someone maintain their independence and protecting an individual’s rights. That’s why it’s so important to choose a trusted partner that believes quality accessibility is a right for all customers. Being in compliance safeguards your company’s reputation, both with the government and with your customers.

Need a Section 508 compliance strategy

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This post was written by Christine Sket

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