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Laws and Policy Quick Reference Guide

This guide highlights the changes you need to make to your agency’s 508 Program, to transition to the Revised 508 Standards. Federal agencies are required to comply with the revised standards as of January 18, 2018.

Major Changes

  • Provides guidance based on features and functionality.
  • Harmonizes accessibility requirements with international standards such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.
  • Clarifies how guidelines apply to public facing and non-public facing websites, web applications, multimedia, software, electronic documents and operating systems.
  • Clarifies how software and operating systems need to work with assistive technology.
  • Addresses access for people with cognitive, language, and learning disabilities.
  • Provides accessibility requirements for modern hardware, software, and authoring tools.
  • Clarifies guidance on allowed exceptions.

See the Revised 508 Standards Roadmap to learn more.

Task 1 - Update Agency Policies

Update your agency policies to address the the Revised 508 Standards

What’s Changing?

Compliance with the standards is required as of January 18, 2018, except where information and communication technology (ICT) is subject to safe harbor provisions. When agencies procure, develop, maintain or use ICT, they must

  • Identify needs of people with disabilities when beginning ICT efforts. (NEW)
  • Ensure authoring tools support the creation of accessible content. (NEW)
  • Ensure categories of internal facing electronic content are accessible. (NEW)
  • Address new technical standards for electronic content, including WCAG 2.0. (Updated)
  • Meet revised criteria and address new requirements when claiming exceptions. (Updated)
  • Provide an alternative means of access for people with disabilities when claiming exceptions for undue burden, fundamental alteration, and best meets. (Updated)
  • Address new functional performance criteria (Updated)

Tools & Technical Assistance

Task 2 - Define Accessibility Requirements

Prepare accessibility requirements for in-house procurement of customized and off-the-shelf ICT items.

What’s Changing?

  • All the existing 508 requirements have been revised. (Updated)
  • There are new standards for electronic content, software, hardware and support services (aligned with WCAG 2.0). (Updated)
  • The exceptions have been revised, as have the functional performance criteria. (Updated)

Tools & Technical Assistance

Online Training

Task 3 - Update Solicitation Language

Validate that accessibility requirements and contract language are developed based on the Revised 508 Standards, for inclusion in Statements of Work and other solicitation documents.

What’s Changing?

  • Accessibility requirements definitions and related contract language must be updated to reflect the new standards. (Updated)

Tools & Technical Assistance


Task 4 - Develop & Test for Conformance

Incorporate the standards into agency life-cycle development activities for electronic content (including websites, software, multimedia, and electronic documents); address how your agency:

  • Designs accessible electronic content;
  • Authors accessible content; and
  • Tests and validates content for conformance to the standards.

What’s Changing?

  • Developers and testers must conform to new technical provisions. (Updated)
  • Because more types of electronic content are now covered, the universe of content creators who need to be trained on their responsibilities under the Revised 508 Standards has increased. (Updated)
  • US Government 508 Testing Methodologies (Updated)

Tools & Technical Assistance


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Page Reviewed/Updated: November 2022

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