ADA and 508 Accessibility: Comparing Two Standards

Both Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (508) and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are made up of laws and guidelines requiring information to be made available to all members of the public, regardless of sensory disabilities. Closed Captioning (CC),  Audio Description (AD), and accessible digital publication technology (508 remediation), are the gold standard for providing media that is fully accessible and compliant with both these regulatory standards.

Section 508

 

508 compliance logo.

 

508 requires that accommodations be made for government employees and members of the public with disabilities who wish to access Government Information and Communications Technology (ICT), including Government websites and multimedia. 508 compliance is overseen by the U. S. Access Board, an independent agency under HHS, which promotes equality for people with disabilities through leadership in accessible design and the development of accessibility guidelines and standards. During 2015 the Access Board has conducted requests for public comments related to the accessibility rules and guidelines in their efforts to institute a “508 refresh” or update to the 508 accessibility requirements. Word Wizards has submitted comments, including our revelations about new ways to achieve accessibility of ICT through the use of 508 Compliant Transcripts.

Read more about our comments here

The Americans with Disabilities Act

 

ADA 25 years logo

 

Signed into law 25 years ago by President George H.W. Bush, the ADA derives authority from the primary Federal civil rights law, the Commerce Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and as such is overseen by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. The ADA is a broader application of accessibility standards to influence commercial and social practices related to persons with disabilities. Title III of the ADA requires that businesses, state and local governments and nonprofit services providers make accommodations for the disabled public to access the same services as patrons who are not disabled. Movie theaters, digital media, websites, and ICT are required to be accessible to people with disabilities.

Evolving standards

In one recent case (NAD v Netflix) the Western Mass. Circuit Court held that even though Netflix was based solely on the internet, they had to offer captioned movies for their “watch instantly” streaming service, because they were dominant in interstate commerce, with 60% of the available market. That case was settled out of court with Netflix agreeing to caption everything going forward. However another jurisdiction, the federal appeals court (9th Circuit), ruled in a class action suit that the ADA doesn’t apply to Netflix, since the online video provider is, “not connected to any actual, physical place.” Never-the-less, the trend is towards more accessibility in services offered to the public rather than less, including film and video.

 

Accesibility graphic, keyboard with blue "Access" key.

Comparing 508 and ADA

Ultimately, ADA protects the civil rights of persons with disabilities participating in interstate commerce; whereas Section 508 is a set of regulations related to access to Government ICT. 508 compliance provides accessibility for digitally published material within government agencies and entities. ADA standards apply broadly to society, commerce, and government as a whole. A comparison of 508 and ADA regulations reveals a trend of increasing complexity of accessible media technology. Word Wizards mission is to serve the needs of an evolving industry as the number of people with sensory disabilities in our society continues to grow.




Section 508 Compliance – Gearing up for IDEAS

Word Wizards is gearing up for next week’s Interagency Disability Educational Awareness Showcase (IDEAS). Our organization has developed a broad expertise helping entities achieve section 508 compliance for their documents, videos and interactive forms. After being awarded a GSA contract on the A.I.M.S. schedule earlier this summer, Word Wizards hopes to access wide new markets for section 508 compliance remediation. As mentioned in our previous article, we are honored to host an exhibit during this year’s IDEAS accessibility conference.

Logo for the 2012 IDEAS conference

Word Wizards presents…

For this year’s section 508 accessibility remediation exhibit, we are pulling out all the stops! We are putting together a serious of materials to identify some of the key issues that contractors must manage when conducting a remediation to achieve 508 compliance. Furthermore, we are highlighting the issues that have come about as this industry attempts to standardize its processes. In addition, we will have working examples of our closed captioning services, audio description capabilities, and screen reading technology for people to explore.

Accessibility for clients and conference attendees alike!

Word Wizards has been working closely with our new partners at Braille Works to provide fully accessible conference materials in the form of braille hand outs for attendees. It is the first time we will be providing conference materials in braille, which will allow us to inform the large amount of conference goers that are visually impaired. We are committed to making the internet a more accessible place, and thus we find ourselves in a position to raise awareness about section 508 compliance and digital accessibility technology. It is the perfect platform to host a discussion about the constant evolution of standards and expectations surrounding the hot ticket issue.

Graphic for section 508 compliance

Evolving Standards:

We will be conducting a survey to identify the most important issues people come across when using screen reading technology. Visit our table and you can participate in this survey and sign up to receive an extensive analysis of what people are saying about the difference between section 508 compliance and practical accessibility from a user standpoint. We think this will allow us to further refine the industry standard method of remediation, and provide a forum to let people share their opinions about what makes a document truly accessible to those with disabilities.

We look forward to seeing you there, and if you cant make it, use our Contact Us page to request a copy of our newsletter which will contain the results of our analysis of this survey.