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Re: What is happening with the update of section 508?

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From: Jared Smith
Date: Nov 28, 2011 10:42AM


On Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 10:09 AM, Bevi Chagnon wrote:
> Jared,
> Are talking about only websites and not documents (PDFs, Word, PowerPoint,
> spreadsheets, email, etc.)?
> ...
> So if you only want websites to be accessible, then WCAG 2.0 is the route to
> take.
> But if you want websites and everything else accessible, then we'll need the
> broader coverage of Section 508 to make that happen.

Correct. The issue is that the current set of Section 508 guidelines
(not the refresh draft) are 11 years old and are out-of-date and don't
adequately address accessibility of modern technologies. The draft
guidelines do generally harmonize with WCAG 2.0 for web content, but,
as you note, the 508 guidelines also have requirements for non-web
technologies.

> If your clients are having such a difficult time creating accessible ICT or
> it the end result isn't truly accessible, then they're not getting the
> proper training.

No, my point is that when clients focus only on the 11 year old
Section 508 guidelines, the resulting accessibility is usually very,
very poor. Our clients have generally chosen to focus on true
accessibility and the much better and comprehensive WCAG guidelines
rather than merely 508. Many have chosen to ignore Section 508
compliance altogether so they can place their efforts in areas that
actually matter when it comes to end-user accessibility (rather than
silly, antiquated requirements like placing links to Flash player or
Acrobat Reader on every page, or ensuring the page is readable with
styles disabled).

> [Jared wrote: The Access Board's Tim Creagan said that we should not expect
> the actual update to occur before Fall 2013.]
>
> Yes, it is very sad that our government has taken such a long time to get to
> this point. For these regs to go into affect in 2 years is appalling.

This process has been underway since early 2006. The committee I was
on delivered a draft set of guidelines to the Access Board in early
2008. A 7 or 8 year timeline for updating technical accessibility
requirements is more than appalling.

> Many government agencies are already adopting
> the 508 refresh standards (many are my clients), as well as corporate
> contractors, so in spite of the long effective date, we will start making
> progress in the next few months.

Yep! This is my point. If you want to be ahead of the curve and are
interested in true accessibility, you need to be looking at WCAG 2.0
and the draft Section 508 guidelines at a minimum. It seems this ship
has sailed for about everyone except the federal government.

Jared