Do colleges and universities agree as to whether they must adhere to Section 508 standards?

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Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that electronic and information technologies that federal agencies procure, develop, maintain, and use are accessible to people with disabilities, both employees and members of the public, unless it would pose a undue burden to do so. In response to the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) developed electronic and information technology accessibility standards with which federal agencies must comply. The standards apply to desktop and laptop computers, websites and other Internet resources, videotapes and multimedia products, software, telecommunications products, and other electronic and information technology.

Although Section 508 directly applies to federal agencies, many questions and issues have been raised regarding its applicability to other entities, including public postsecondary institutions. Some public postsecondary institutions, such as the California Community Colleges, consider the Section 508 regulations applicable to their institutions; others, including the California State University, do not.

Regardless, the accessibility standards developed for the federal government can serve as one model as educational institutions develop their own guidelines for the design of accessible websites and other information resources.

For additional information about the higher education institutions and IT you may also wish to view the video IT Accessibility: What Campus Leaders Have to Say in which university presidents, chief information officers, and other information technology (IT) leaders discuss the importance of IT accessibility on college campuses.

Last update or review: February 11, 2014