The legislation referred to as “Section 508” is actually an amendment to the Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The amendment was signed into law by President Clinton on August 7, 1998. Section 508 requires that electronic and information technology that is developed by or purchased by the Federal Agencies be accessible by people with disabilities.
The Access Board finalized the standards for the law and a summary of Section 508 Standards on December 21, 2000.
June of 2001, all government web sites were required to conform to these standards. Any contractor doing web development for the Federal government must build web sites that conform to these standards. Any company doing business with the Federal government or with states receiving technical assistance funds (Tech Act states) would do best to put forth an accessible web presence.
The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Federal agencies must ensure that this technology is accessible to employees and members of the public with disabilities to the extent it does not pose an “undue burden.”
Section 508 does not directly apply to private sector web sites or to public sites which are not U.S. Federal agency sites.
Federal employees and the public can access resources for understanding and implementing the requirements of Section 508 through the government Web site www.section508.gov.