The Section 508 ICT Refresh has Arrived

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:

  1. Start reviewing WCAG 2.0 criteria to address the Web, Software, and Digital Documents components of Section 508.
  2. Want to learn more about the Section 508 Refresh from a panel of experts? Check out the Virtual Panel discussion reviewing the policy changes.
  3. 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?
  4. Start prioritizing the items in that inventory. A registration and access portal is probably more essential to your users than an embedded Twitter widget.
  5. Get an accessibility assessment.
  6. 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.

In the meantime, take a look at some of our accessibility testing toolsDeque University training, and take our aXe browser extension for a spin!

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About Deque Systems

Deque (pronounced dee-cue) stands for digital equality. For over 20 years, our software, services and training have helped eliminate billions of accessibility barriers from websites, mobile apps and other digital content - improving the web for everyone, including people with disabilities.

We work with enterprise-level businesses and organizations to ensure that their sites and mobile apps are accessible. Our axe tools have been downloaded over one billion times by accessibility champions around the world. Our experts have implemented thousands of successful accessibility programs. Our training has impacted over a hundred thousand learners.

Deque is the digital accessibility industry standard.
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