WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

508 vs. W3c vs. ADA compliance


From: John Goldthwaite
Date: Dec 17, 2001 3:56PM

Date: 17 Dec 2001 11:10:49 -0600
From: Kynn Bartlett < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Subject: Re: ADA compliance: ASP server-side scripting and text-only

At 9:36 AM -0800 12/14/01, Scott, Angel wrote:
>Hello All,
>I would like to work on a site and make the content as ADA compliant
>as possible with the following restriction posed by the W3C:

>I don't believe that ADA compliance is defiend by the W3C. You
>might want to say, "I want to make my web site compliant with
>WCAG" or "I want to make my web site more accessible," but to the best
>of my knowledge there is no such thing as a firm list of "ADA
>compliance" as there is for Section 508 compliance.

I think Kynn is correct, the thing to work on is accessibility. You can
follow 508 or the W3C standards and still have a site that wasn't usable by
a person with a disability.

Since Ms. Scott is with a state government its websites are required to be
accessible under Title II of the ADA and under Section 504 of the
Rehabiliation Act. The Web didn't exist in 1978 or in 1990 so 504 and ADA
don't define accessible websites, so the question is what standard to use.
Section 508 is formally a standard for US government websites (and all
Electronic and Information Technology) developed or purchased after June 21,
2001. They must be developed using the 508 guidelines unless it would be an
"undue burden" on the agency. The US Department of Education required the
states receiving funds under the Technical Assistance Act to give assurance
that they would also use Section 508 as the standard used for IT and website
development (that's an very small stick since each state only receives about
$300,000). Many states have adopted the W3C guidelines as their state

The point I'd like to make is that it is Title II of the ADA is requiring
accessiblity at the state and local level. State governments can not be
sued under Section 508, only under ADA or 504. You can use the 508
guidelines and that likely will cover you under ADA and the Department of
Education will be happy. The W3C guidelines are more rigorous than 508 so
using them should not be a problem with respect to 508 compliance.