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IT Accessibility Laws and Policies

This guide highlights laws, policies and other regulations requiring federal agencies ensure employees and members of the public with disabilities have access to information comparable to the access available to others.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. The law 29 U.S.C § 794 (d) applies to all federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508, agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information comparable to the access available to others.

The U.S. Access Board is responsible for developing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) accessibility standards to incorporate into regulations that govern federal procurement practices. On January 18, 2017, the Access Board issued a final rule that updated accessibility requirements covered by Section 508 and refreshed guidelines for telecommunications equipment subject to Section 255 of the Communications Act. The final rule went into effect on January 18, 2018.

The rule updated and reorganized the Section 508 Standards and Section 255 Guidelines in response to market trends and innovations in technology. The refresh also harmonized these requirements with other guidelines and standards both in the U.S. and abroad, including standards issued by the European Commission, and with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), a globally recognized voluntary consensus standard for web content and ICT.

Section 508 Standards

Revised Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)

Federal Acquisition Regulation: Section 508-Based Standards in Information and Communication Technology as published August 11, 2021, includes the following key parts, subparts and sections for requirements and acquisition professionals:

It is important to understand Section 508 in the context of other laws related to federal disability policy. In addition to Section 508, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (PDF) has the following related sections:

  • Section 501 - Prohibits federal employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities. It requires each federal agency to adopt the goal of having 12% of its workforce be people with disabilities and 2% of its workforce be people with targeted disabilities.
  • Section 503 - Prohibits employment discrimination based on disability by federal contractors or subcontractors.
  • Section 504 (PDF) - Prohibits federal agencies, programs, or activities from discriminating and requires reasonable accommodation for qualified individuals with disabilities.
  • Section 505 - Contains provisions governing remedies and attorneys' fees under Section 501.

Related laws include:

Executive Orders

Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memos

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

State and International

Agency Policies

Agencies should periodically review and update their Sections 508, 501, and 504 policies. Your agency’s policies on how to implement each section of the Rehabilitation Act should be closely aligned to clarify responsibilities and determine how to respond to claims of discrimination on the basis of disability.

Your agency’s policies should include that your agency is obligated to:

  • Make Information and Communication Technology (ICT) accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Accommodate the needs of employees and program participants, while meeting the Revised Section 508 requirements.

Learn how to maintain your agency’s policies through the links below:

Workforce Policies

​​In addition to accessibility-related policies, other agency policies often require the development or use of specific ICT by the agency’s workforce. In order for an agency’s accessibility effort to be successful, employees and organizations must integrate accessibility into outcomes. In addition, other policies should be reviewed and updated to ensure that accessibility adequately addresses individual and organizational roles & responsibilities including:

Sample Policies

Accessibility Statements

For information and examples on creating an accessibility statement in accordance with OMB requirements, see Developing a Website Accessibility Statement.

Reviewed/Updated: April 2024

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