The Following is from a News Bytes Article in May 2003.
Section 508 is part of the federal law known as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act -- known as the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) -- went into effect in June 2001. These standards clarify how to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to technology.
For example, Web-based intranet and Internet information and applications must have a text equivalent for every non-text element. Telecommunications products must offer caller identification and similar telecommunications functions for users of TTYs, and for users who can’t see displays.
The U.S. government follows these standards when acquiring any kind of EIT. This year, according to a new California law, all state entities -- including the Foothill - De Anza District -- also must follow Section 508 standards.
“The intent of the law is to effect change in the marketplace by motivating vendors to provide accessible products to the government, a large buyer,” explained Wayne Chenoweth, faculty member and member of the ETAC Section 508 Educational Technology Advisory Committee (ETAC) subcommittee. “Over time, District technology will become more accessible to users with disabilities, and to everyone in general, as we follow Section 508 standards when we acquire new technology.”
The idea is that as vendors become more aware of how to make their products accessible, and requestors become more aware of Section 508-compliant products, EIT accessibility will improve.
What is EIT?
EIT is nearly everything that runs on electricity in your office and learning environments. Here is a list of the different kinds of things the standards address:
- Software Applications
- Web-based Intranet
and Internet Information
- Video and Multimedia
- Self Contained,
- Desktop and Portable