The 508 Refresh is finally here. On Thursday, January 5th, the US Access Board announced that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had cleared the Final Rule for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines, also known as the Section 508 Refresh.
The ICT Standards and Guidelines (508 Refresh) are final and will soon be published in the U.S. Federal Register. On Tuesday, January 10, 2017, the U.S. Access Board will hold a Public Briefing on the ICT Final Rule.
The Access Board has been very clear that the primary goals of the refresh are to address "fundamental shifts and trends in the market, such as the convergence of technologies and the increasingly multi-functional capabilities of products like smartphones" and to align Section 508 regulations with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 standards that currently serve as the basis for most international digital accessibility regulations.
Update: the effective date for enforcement and compliance with this new Final Rule will begin 12 months from the day it is published in the U.S. Federal Register.
What does the 508 ICT Refresh mean for your organization?
It is hard to say exactly what changes will be required by the 508 refresh until the final rule has been published; however, if you work for a federal agency or develop digital content and applications for a federal agency, there are some clear steps towards compliance that you can start taking today:
- Start reviewing WCAG 2.0 criteria to address the Web, Software, and Digital Documents components of Section 508.
- Learn more about the differences between Section 508 and WCAG. Here's a Section 508 Refresh eGuide to help you out.
- Start taking an inventory of your agency's web and mobile presence - do you have any online applications or forms? Do you link to social media accounts? Do you have a mobile app?
- Start prioritizing the items in that inventory. A registration and access portal is probably more essential to your users than an embedded Twitter widget.
- Get an accessibility assessment.
- Remember that Section 508 is very comprehensive and is about more than just web accessibility.
Stay tuned to the Deque blog for more updates on the Section 508 Refresh. We'll report on the results of Tuesday's briefing, the published Final Rule, and more steps you can take to make sure your current accessibility program is ready to meet any and all new requirements.