Semalt: What is section 508?

In the United States Workforce rehabilitation act of 1973, section 508 was added to help the working force population show suffered one form of disability or the other. These are a set of requirements and guidelines which must be followed to ensure that the information contained on a website is accessible to everyone, including individuals with a form of disabilities. The 508 Act: "Federal agencies are required to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible all visitors including those with disabilities." 

508 Compliance ensures that websites are safe and accessible for individuals with disabilities. Everyone has a right to education; these include individuals who have one form of disability or the other. Imagine a website designed to teach blind visitors on how to read braille. On their screens, there no possible way they can understand this, but with the help of 508 compliance websites, they can learn this without any difficulty. 

Today, this cuts across both websites, with its audience being disabled individuals to general sites. The 508 compliance law states that all websites, regardless of your target audience, should provide certain forms of guidance for individuals who suffer one disability or the other. This law covers a range of issues designed to assist people with different kinds of disabilities. 

Considering that almost 20% of the entire American population has some form of disability or the other, we begin to see the need for websites that accommodate these individuals' needs. By ignoring the accessibility needs of this population, your page views are automatically reduced, limiting the traffic to your site, and you will isolate the disabled.

Whether working for the federal government, the private sector, or a nonprofit, 508 Compliance should be carefully thought out; its design needs careful attention, so does its development and execution. Here is a list of 508 Compliance issues and how the Semalts web development team can help you navigate them and give you a perfect website.

Several laws are related to Section 508. The most relevant to information and communication are:
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Section 255 of the Communications Act
  • 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010

Who needs to be compliant with Section 508?

Many times, websites believe that 508 compliance is for federal agencies alone. This isn't true and for obvious reasons. As an E-commerce website, you should expect individuals with disabilities to shop for items also. Without 508 compliance, these individuals will have to leave your website because they can't navigate the site to get to what they want. This means more traffic gets lost due to your inability to create a conducive environment for their needs. However, this concerns any company that cooperates with federal agencies such as legal organizations, private sectors, healthcare, and many more. This is important because you show the world everyone matters, and you take into consideration the needs of everyone who could stumble on your website. 20% of the American population is a significant figure, and having that population on your side will do more good than harm.  

Key features of 508 compliance

To make your website 508 compliant, here are the guidelines Semalt uses crucial features we hope to implement, and when we're done, we give you an amazing 508 complaint website. 
Semalt uses transcripts and captions to translate the spoken contents from audios and videos in the form of written text. Are you wondering, "what is the difference between them?" well, a transcript is a direct translation of what was said in the audio or videos presented in a separate document? To keep the essence and the suspense, the text appears simultaneously with the spoken words.
Although there are special services available on the internet that convert speech to text, it wouldn't do any harm if your website had a feature that does this on its own. 
With this, interactions should occur for assistive technology. For example, links, buttons, or input fields are all controlled with a tab, arrow, or keys on the keyboard. This makes it easier than using a mouse where disabled visitors are walking blind. Using "Tabs" can make moving between links to allow visitors to find specific content more efficiently. Considering that keyboards can be learned easily, they give a significant degree of control when jumping through pages, paragraphs, page sections, and more.  
Today, websites and web browsers limit the Zoom function, specifically on mobile devices. This isn't the best move when achieving 508 compliance. This mustn't be done for mobile devices when creating a responsive design. A large percentage of individuals with astigmatism and other visual impairments use the Zoom feature to see clearly. As a result, zoom avoids blocking its feature on mobile devices, allowing users to zoom as much as they need. We also ensure the layout for up to 200% zoom on the desktop. 
Screen readers read aloud the texts displayed on the screen on websites. These screen readers are useful as they convert text to audio pairing with documents, spreadsheets, and OS'.although screen readers process text differently than sighted users. They still offer significant relief to visually impaired visitors. Using screen readers means listeners get information in a linear manner rather than at a macro-view used by readers with sight. They also require different means of navigating content quickly. 
Alternative (ALT) text is an explanation of what is seen in the image displayed.  This feature is amazing because screen readers can dictate this description, so people with visual disabilities have an idea of what is contained in the picture. The ALT description must be accurate to be helpful. If you have a link for the image, this should be mentioned in the ALT description.  
Like with the ALT for images, ALT for videos is an alternative description for videos allowing screen readers to describe the information contained in the video to those who can't watch.  
Color and contrast are important in improving the accessibility of websites. Using color smarts, you can use red to indicate errors and green to represent to show that the information entered is correct. People with visual disabilities need to see contrasts between website elements to achieve a greater understanding of what is happening.  For example, there should be a difference between the text color and the background color to distinguish the content clearly. This is important to everyone because no one wants to struggle to see the text on your website. You can't have white text on a white background. Make sure it's easy for everyone to read what's on your site.  
Closed captioning is text included for hearing impaired to audio or video files with audio components. This has been commonly used for TV, movies, and video for years, providing a transcript of the spoken words on the screen. Since manually creating captions is time-intensive and auto-generated captioning (as with YouTube) is error-prone, there are companies nationwide that can provide closed captioning transcripts for your videos or podcasts.
To have a 508 compliant website, avoid having time limits. Some users, specifically disabled ones, will need more time to do this or that action. Setting time limits can frustrate them as they are moving as fast as they can. If you need a timed response, make sure that you provide more than enough time for visitors. You can also make it possible that if the time elapses, you can return to that action.
When there is a need for a timed response, users must have enough time to get it done, and they should also be able to indicate when they require more time. This timeout feature is critical when websites set time on filling forms when personal information is entered. Semalt can ensure ample time is provided, and a warning can be added to increase the time assigned to an action. 

Why does your website need to be compliant with section 508?

If you want your platform to be accessible to people with disabilities and, as a result, gain more traffic and conversions, your website has to be 508 compliant. If you want your website to be accessible by everyone interested, having a 508 complaint website is for you. With this, you can get more traffic and conversions on your website besides the fact that your website will be seen as user conscious.  

Is my website 508 compliant and accessible to people with disabilities?

It is time you stopped asking this question and get your website to Semalt to have it checked. With the help of special tools, we can get you an answer in no time. 

Regardless of whether your website is legally required to implement 508 Compliance, having it implemented on your website is beneficial. With so many disabled Americans, it can become a problem if an organization's website does not cater to the needs of the entirety of web-users. Semalt can guide you through making your website 508 compliant, and we will make sure you have a great site that's both functional and accessible to all users.

send email