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ADA Compliance News

In the ever changing world of technology, ADA compliance will along walk right along its side, and we will see standards and success criteria continuously evolve. We will keep you informed with ADA compliance updates and tips here.

What is the Section 508 Refresh?

If you’ve heard about Section 508 standards for website design, you’ve probably heard about the Section 508 refresh. Many schools seem to be confused with one of the refresh items and are under the impression they have until January 2018 to make their websites compliant. Don’t be caught off guard by this misinterpretation.

The refresh states:

“Any component or portion of existing ICT that complies with an earlier standard issued pursuant to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended), and that has not been altered on or after January 18, 2018, shall not be required to be modified to conform to the Revised 508 Standards.”

Notice the key words “complies with an earlier standard.” The original Section 508 Standards were released December 21, 2000, which mean websites should already comply with Section 508 compliant website standards such as including alternative text, proper table markup, skip navigation links, user control of content changes such as slideshows, etc.

Think of it this way. If websites were not already required to comply to accessibility standards, would schools be having to spend so much time and money on accessibility audits and remediation? No. An OCR complaint would be nothing more than a warning to prepare for January 2018. We know this is not the case, and schools throughout the U.S. have been overwhelmed with bringing their websites into compliance.

The refresh basically states that they have officially adopted WCAG 2.0 as guidelines in addition to Section 508 Standards. The refresh provides better organized documentation, and the success criteria is explained clearer. 

The Access Board has a comparison table for Section 508 and WCAG 2.0. This is good chart to reference. 

It does offer a "Safe Harbor" provision, which states that anything added prior to January 18, 2018, would be grandfathered in and not have to comply if there is no change in context. For example, correcting the spelling of the word would be okay; however, adding a new word would cause it to have to comply. Since school websites are typically updated often, unless they are never making changes, their websites would need to comply by this date.

Also note that all previous Section 508 and the WCAG 2.0 standards that aren't labeled as new do not apply to the Safe Harbor since these standards should've already been followed.

It also defines the Linked Documents to clarify what must comply. Basically, all PDFs posted need to be compliant.

E205.3 Agency Official Communication. Electronic content that is not public facing shall conform to the accessibility requirements specified in E205.4 when such content constitutes official business and is communicated by an agency through one or more of the following: 

  1. an emergency notification;
  2. an initial or final decision adjudicating an administrative claim or proceeding;
  3. an internal or external program or policy announcement;
  4. a notice of benefits, program eligibility, employment opportunity, or personnel action;
  5. a formal acknowledgement of receipt;
  6. a survey questionnaire;
  7. a template or form;
  8. educational or training materials; or
  9. Intranet content designed as a web page.

EXCEPTION: Records maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) pursuant to federal recordkeeping statutes shall not be required to conform to the Revised 508 Standards unless public facing.

And finally, if all of this sounds like confusing gobbledygook, remember that School Webmasters’ schools don’t have this worry since managing ADA website compliance is included in our services. Because we manage your daily school website updates, it is possible for us to assure that you have an ADA compliant website year in and year out. Other companies charge big fees to “run a report” for you, which doesn’t actually get you much closer to making your website accessible; it just becomes another task in dealing with all those complicated requirements for school websites. If you need this challenging issue to be a thing of the past, give us a call at (888) 750.4556, or contact Jim at Jim@Schoolwebmasters.com