Friday, April 30, 2010

Updates to Section 508 Guidelines and Standards

Topic: Reviewing proposed updates in the Section 508 guidelines and standards

Speaker: Terrill Thompson, Technology Accessibility Specialist, UW-IT
  • Section 508 is an amendment in 1998 to the Rehabilitation Act

  • The refresh of 508 guidelines and standards

    • Access Board assembled the Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee (TEITAC) to update 508 and 255 standards and guidlines
    • TEITAC recommendations presented April 2008
    • Accepting public comment through June 21, 2010
    • More info at
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards & Guidelines

    • Reviewing chapter organization, it is not clear which are the operative parts and which are explanatory
    • Hard to extract the standards from the text and translate it to how it would apply to what we are doing
    • Significantly changed how it is organized - original version was much easier to point to specific rules
    • Level of detail is higher but consistency of editing is worse
    • Numbering and organization takes getting use to; some items are recursive, lowest levels referring to higher levels
    • Advisory content boxes help explain rules and give many examples, but sometimes occur before the rules they explain
    • Each of the two introductory chapters (one for ICT and one for telecommunications and VoIP) have detailed glossaries
  • Section E107: Harmonization with W3C Guidelines

    • Section E107 states that goal is harmonization with WCAG 2.0
    • If web pages meets WCAG 2.0 then they comply, as long as they also conform with 409, 413, 606.4, 604.5, 607, 608

      • user platform preferences (409)
      • authoring tool standards ( 413)
      • real-time video description (604.4 and 604.5)
      • user controls for captions and video descritption (607)
      • user controls to adjust foreground and background sound independently (608) - not widely supported at this time
    • Authoring Tool and User Agent guidelines are integrated throughout, but ATAG and UAAG are not explicitly referenced (both are under revision at W3C)
  • Section E108: Best Meets

    • Odd title, an example of occasionally creative language use in the document
    • "agency must produce the product that best meets the provisions of this part, consistent with the business needs of the agency"
    • Essentially an exception or loophole
  • What can we do?

    • Terry is working on a First Impressions of ICT Accessibility Standards and Guidelines statement that he hopes to submit as a comment on the draft guidelines before June. Please review his statement and post any comments to the AccessibleWeb@U email list.
    • With so few exceptions, we could just focus on WCAG 2.0 since it seems better documented, at least so far