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Section 508

Section 508 requires that all website content be accessible to people with disabilities. This applies to Web applications, Web pages and all attached files on the Intranet, as well as, the Internet.

The Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) is responsible for HHS Section 508 Compliance.

Section 508: Why Comply?

It’s the right thing to do:

  • 6.4 million people in the United States have a visual disability.
  • 10.5 million people in United States population have a hearing disability.
  • 20.9 million people in United States population have a ambulatory disability.
  • 14.8 million people in United States population have a cognitive disability.

That means that, on average, 13.2 million people in the United States have at least one disability that Section 508 is meant to help with

Erickson, W., Lee, C., & von Schrader, S. (2012). 2010 Disability Status Report: United
States. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Employment and Disability Institute(EDI).

It’s the law:

  • Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794d), as amended by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-220), August 7, 1998.

Who is Responsible for 508 Compliance?

Nearly everyone plays a role in carrying out Section 508. The federal government increasingly relies on technology to carry out its business and deliver information to citizens, from creating files to managing contracts, which makes ensuring access for individuals with disabilities part of everyone's job.

Specifically, this may include the following individuals:

  • File Creators and Document Authors If you create files that may be distributed through email, posted online, or shared through another electronic format, you will want to know how to make your files accessible.
  • Supervisors If you are responsible for managing staff, be sure they understand the importance of ensuring accessibility and have access to the training that will allow them to fulfil their responsibility for 508 compliance.
  • Web Managers If you managing or developing a website, you will need to follow 508 standards for web content.
  • Project and Program Managers If you are responsible for planning a project or managing a program, remember to allow time for 508 reviews and corrections, if necessary.
  • Contract Officers If you write documentation for contracts, you should include the 508 contracting language, and ensure contractors submit 508 compliant deliverables.
  • Procurement OfficersIf you purchase software or equipment for your office, you must follow 508 contracting requirements.
  • Vendors If you do business with HHS for Information Technology products, you can reference our vendor information for product evaluation.
Content created by Digital Communications Division (DCD)
Content last reviewed on October 8, 2019