What are the functional performance criteria specified by Section 508?

DO-IT Factsheet #1100
http://www.washington.edu/accessit/articles?1100

The 1998 amendments to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act required that electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the federal government be accessible. They also charged the federal Access Board with developing standards by which technology accessibility could be measured. The Access Board met this obligation in December 2001 with publication of its Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards [1].

Although Section 508 specifically applies to the federal government, the Access Board's standards are helpful measures of information technology accessibility and are being mandated or voluntarily used as accessibility standards by many other organizations as well, including states and educational entities.

The Access Board, in addition to being charged with developing the standards, was charged with developing technical and functional performance criteria necessary for technology to comply with Section 508. The functional performance criteria compliment the standards by ensuring that the individual accessible components work together to create an accessible product. Based on these criteria, one could broadly describe an accessible product as a product where all functions, including operation and information retrieval, are accessible via multiple modes.

The following are the functional performance criteria specified within the Section 508 standards document:

a) At least one mode of operation and information retrieval that does not require user vision shall be provided, or support for assistive technology used by people who are blind or visually impaired shall be provided.

b) At least one mode of operation and information retrieval that does not require visual acuity greater than 20/70 shall be provided in audio and enlarged print output working together or independently, or support for assistive technology used by people who are visually impaired shall be provided.

c) At least one mode of operation and information retrieval that does not require user hearing shall be provided, or support for assistive technology used by people who are deaf or hard of hearing shall be provided.

d) Where audio information is important for the use of a product, at least one mode of operation and information retrieval shall be provided in an enhanced auditory fashion, or support for assistive hearing devices shall be provided.

e) At least one mode of operation and information retrieval that does not require user speech shall be provided, or support for assistive technology used by people with disabilities shall be provided.

f) At least one mode of operation and information retrieval that does not require fine motor control or simultaneous actions and that is operable with limited reach and strength shall be provided.

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