Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that when Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain or use electronic and information technology, Federal employees with disabilities have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access and use by Federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. Section 508 also requires that individuals with disabilities, who are members of the public seeking information or services from a Federal agency, have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to the public who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. Section 508 (§1194.22) Standards as they apply to Web-based intranet and internet information and applications are:
A. A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via “alt”, “longdesc”, or in element content).
B. Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation.
C. Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup.
D. Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet.
E. Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map.
F. Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape.
G. Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables.
H. Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers.
I. Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation.
J. Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.
K. A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes.
L. When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology.
M. When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with §1194.21(a) through (l).
N. When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues.
O. A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.
P. When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.
WCAG 2.0 recommendations are the web-specific criteria for meeting Section 508 standards. In order to accommodate different situations that may require or allow greater levels of accessibility than others, WCAG 2.0 has three levels of conformance, and therefore, three levels of Success Criteria: A, AA and AAA.
Our goal was to conform to the A success criteria at a minimum on all pages, and AA success criteria on key pages such as the Homepage, Contact Us page, and Department pages.
1.1 Text Alternatives: Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language. We have included a mandatory alt text field for images and non-text elements of the site.
1.2 Time-based Media: Provide alternatives for time-based media. Uploading content to YouTube allows us to provide this tool for users. Read more here about Google’s efforts to automatically caption videos in YouTube using automatic speech recognition technology.
1.3 Adaptable: Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure. We have designed the site using content elements that are repositioned or resized appropriately according to the display size.
1.4 Distinguishable: Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background. We have chosen a color scheme that provides sufficient contrast for all users. Additionally, we have designed content elements that are clearly separated on the page. Our design provides a visible highlighting mechanism for links or controls when they receive keyboard focus.
2.1 Keyboard Accessible: Make all functionality available from a keyboard. The headers, content, and navigation of the site have been designed to be accessible from a keyboard. “Skip to main content” and “Back to top” links are provided on every page.
2.2 Enough Time: Provide users enough time to read and use content. We have not incorporated any elements that disappear or rotate. We did not not use image carousels because of this requirement.
2.3 Seizures: Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures. We have not incorporated any elements that blink, flicker or flash. We did not not use image carousels because of this requirement.
2.4 Navigable: Provide ways to help users navigate, find content and determine where they are. We have applied a consistent navigation for every page on the site. The header and footer contain links to the most commonly used sections of the site. We have also limited the number of links per page through our content rules. “Skip to main content” and “Back to top” links will be provided on every page.
3.1 Readable: Make text content readable and understandable. We have provided a style guide that illustrates how to write content using clear and simple language. We have also designed content elements that limit text column width, avoid chunks of italic text, avoid overuse of different styles on individual pages, and make links visually distinct. Our design also includes large enough font sizes and line heights to accommodate all users.
3.2 Predictable: Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways. We have applied a consistent navigation for every page on the site. The content of individual pages may vary but the overall layout is consistent, and content elements will be consistent across pages. Interface elements will have the same styles and behaviors.
3.3 Input Assistance: Help users avoid and correct mistakes. We have designed form elements to indicate required fields using labels and instructions.
4.1 Compatible: Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies. By using CSS3 technologies, we are supporting multiple media queries. We are also separating CSS from HTML, which allows screen readers to separate design from content. Because we have established an information hierarchy,
Accessibility for Mobile Devices
We have followed best practices for mobile accessibility and design that can accommodate a wide range of screen sizes. For smaller screens, content stays the same, but CSS stylesheets are used to render it differently depending on the viewport width.
Additionally, we recommend avoiding content elements and plug-ins that rely on software that cannot be accessed on mobile devices, such as Flash. Please see the following information to learn more about the downfalls of Flash: http://webaim.org/techniques/flash/. We also recommend clear labeling and instructions for actionable items.