[Home]Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

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Section 508 is the short name for [US Public Law 105-220] a series of amendments to Section 508 of [The Rehabilitation Act of 1973] that were enacted in August 1988. It is also known as The Workforce Investment Act of 1988.

Section 508 was originally added as an amendment to The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, in 1986. The original Section 508 was added to The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to prevent employment dicrimination by parties having contracts with the U. S. Federal Government and by programs and activities receiving Federal funding. The original section 508 dealt with eclectronic and inforamtion technologies, in recognition of the growth of this field.
In 1997, The Federal Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility and Compliance Act was proposed in the U. S. legislature to correct the shotcomings of the original section 508; the original Section 508 had turned out to be mostly ineffective, in part due to the lack of enforcement mechanisms. In the end, this Federal Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility and Compliance Act, with revisions, was enacted as the new Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, in 1988.
The Law:
Section 508 requires that electronic and information technology developed, procured, used, or maintained by all agencies and departments of the Federal Government be accessible both to Federal employees with disabilities and to members of the public with disabilites, and that these two groups have equal use of such technologies as federal employess and members of the public that do not have diabilities.

This legislation is due to come into effect on June 25, 2001. The original legislation mandated that the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, known as [the Access Board], establish a draft for their [Final Standards] for accessibility for such electronic and information technologies in December 2001. The final standards were approved in April 2001 and come into effect six months after the initial draft, i.e., this June 25.
The latest information about these standards and about support available from the Access Board in implementing them, as well as, the results of surveys conducted to assess compliance is available from the Board's newletter [Access Currents].


Q. Is this part of the ADA?
A. No it is not. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a different piece of legislation. This is an amendment to [The Rehabilitation Act of 1973]?, of which Section 504, of the original act, laid some of the groundwork for the ADA, in the areas of rehabilitation, training and employment of the disabled people.
Q. Is this related to or the same as the WWW Consortium's [Web Content Accessibility Guidelines].
A. No. These Guidelines were considered in establishing the Access Boards Standards, as well as other resources. But the WWW Consortium's Web Content Accessibilies Guidelines are completely voluntary. On the other hand, the Section 508 Standards are enforceable as law and there are monetary penalties for non-compliance to the Access Board Standards. Under Section 508, covered parties alleging discrimination may institute civil suits based on alleged damages and, if successful, receive monetary awards.

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Last edited August 9, 2001 4:43 am by Lee Daniel Crocker (diff)