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Section 508 and Internet Accessibility

On June 21, 2001, new accessibility guidelines went into effect for U.S. government agencies. These guidelines are part of Section 508 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, which were adopted in 1998. They require all electronic and information technology products and services that federal agencies buy to meet new accessibility standards. This includes computers, fax machines and millions of government Internet Web sites.

June 1: Website Accessibility Countdown Continues
August 27: "Disability-Friendly" Rules Help New Industry
December 7: Ramping The Web by Dave Reynolds (Appeared in the Computor Companion)

This National Park Service has a number of links to valuable accessibility resources including simplified version of the guidelines:

Website Accessibility Countdown Continues
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 1, 2001

UNITED STATES--Starting June 21, electronic and information technology products and services that federal agencies buy must meet new accessibility standards. Federal agencies must also follow these standards. This includes computers and Internet websites.

It's part of Section 508 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act which was revised in 1998. The section spells out, for the first time, standards for developing accessible web pages.

Considering the number of people with disabilities who use the Internet, web accessibility makes sense, even if you are not with a federal vendor or federal agency.

If you are a web developer, JAWS For Windows has a trial version you can download to test how your site sounds to text-to-voice screen readers:

Bobby, a free service provided by the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), helps web page authors identify and repair significant barriers to access by individuals with disabilities:

This article from Federal Computer Week looks at the new guidelines and provides links to a number of other resources:

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"Disability-Friendly" Rules Help New Industry
August 27, 2001

UNITED STATES--It's been two months since the new accessibility guidelines of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act went into effect. These new rules are meant to make sure that the federal government uses information technologies such as computers and the Internet that are accessible to people with disabilities. This means the companies that provide those products or services to the federal government must also make sure they are accessible.

It's good news, then, that we are seeing a growth in the number of companies providing products and services targeted toward, for example, building accessible websites.

The Washington Post looked at this new industry in an article that can be accessed on the Philadelphia Inquirer's website:

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Ramping The Web
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 7, 2001

Spokane,WASHINGTON--It has been eleven years since the Americans with Disabilities Act became law and nearly ten years since many of us started learning about a thing called the "World Wide Web". But information technologies still have a long way to go toward becoming accessible to people with disabilities.

In an article I wrote for the Sandpoint, Idaho-based Computor Companion magazine, I explained what accessibility is when it comes to web site development, why it should be important to web designers, and how easy it is to make a site accessible. I also point readers toward some resources (and fun tools) that can help in authoring for accessibility.

My article, entitled "Ramping the Web", appears in the Winter 2001/2002 edition of the Computor Companion and is available on their website:

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