Section 508 Refresh
Section 508 was updated in 2018, revising and refreshing the federal sector’s standards for accessible electronic and information technology in order to keep the act current with modern technologies.
Section 508’s “refresh” was designed to address the myriad changes in technology over the nearly two decades since 508 was enacted, and to bring federal requirements more closely in line with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the widely accepted standard for online content accessibility.
WCAG’s standards define three levels of accessibility − A (the minimum level of conformance), AA (more accessible), and AAA (highly accessible) − and provide specific criteria for conformance at each of these levels.
Level A covers the most basic web accessibility features:
All non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose, such as large print, braille, symbols, or simpler language, except for these situations.
Captions are provided for all prerecorded audio content in synchronized media, except when the media is a media alternative for text and is clearly labeled as such.
For prerecorded audio-only and prerecorded video-only media, the following are true, except when the audio or video is a media alternative for text and is clearly labeled as such:
- Prerecorded audio-only: An alternative for time-based media is provided that presents equivalent information for prerecorded audio-only content.
- Prerecorded video-only: Either an alternative for time-based media or an audio track is provided that presents equivalent information for prerecorded video-only content.
Level AA includes all Level A and AA requirements, and addresses the biggest and most common barriers for disabled users.
- Captions are provided for all live audio content in synchronized media.
- Audio description is provided for all prerecorded video content in synchronized media.
Many organizations strive to meet Level AA.
- Level AAA includes all Level A, AA, and AAA requirements. The WCAG does not recommend that Level AAA conformance be required as a general policy for entire sites because it is not possible to satisfy all Level AAA success criteria for some content.