Web sites should be designed to ensure that everyone, including users who have difficulty seeing, hearing, and making precise movements, can use them. Generally, this means ensuring that Web sites facilitate the use of common assistive technologies. All United States Federal Government Web sites must comply with the Section 508 Federal Accessibility Standards.
With the exception of Guideline 2:7 and Guideline 9:6, all accessibility-related guidelines are found in this chapter. The sample of users who organized these guidelines assigned these two guidelines to other chapters. (See page xxv, Step 7 for more on how the guidelines were organized.)
Some of the major accessibility issues to be dealt with include: • Provide text equivalents for non-text elements; • Ensure that scripts allow accessibility; • Provide frame titles; • Enable users to skip repetitive navigation links; • Ensure that plug-ins and applets meet the requirements for accessibility; and
• Synchronize all multimedia elements.
Where it is not possible to ensure that all pages of a site are accessible, designers should provide equivalent information to ensure that all users have equal access to all information.
For more information on Section 508 and accessibility, see
Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines
Comply with Section 508
Guideline: If a Web site is being designed for the United States government, ensure that it meets the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Ideally, all Web sites should strive to be accessible and compliant with Section 508.
Comments: Section 508 requires Federal agencies to ensure that their procurement of information technology takes into account the needs of all users—including people with disabilities. About eight percent of the user population has a disability that may make the traditional use of a Web site very difficult or impossible. About four percent have vision-related disabilities, two percent have movement-related issues, one percent have hearing-related disabilities, and less than one percent have learning-related disabilities.
Compliance with Section 508 enables Federal employees with disabilities to have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to others. This also enhances the ability of members of the public with disabilities to access information or services from a Federal agency.
For additional information on Section 508 and accessibility:
Sources: GVU, Georgia Institute of Technology, 1998; United States Government, 1998.