How does Section 508 relate to the Telecommunications Act?

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Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires that telephone manufacturers and telecommunications service providers take steps to make their products accessible to people with disabilities. For further information about Section 255, visit the FCC's Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Access Board wrote guidelines for the "accessibility, usability, and compatibility of telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment covered by Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996." These guidelines are known as the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines (36 CFR, Part 1193).

The Access Board incorporated the language of the Section 255 guidelines into the accessibility standards they developed for Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Telecommunications products that are procured, developed, or used by the federal government must meet Section 508 standards. Using consistent language in both documents enables telecommunications companies to develop products that simultanteously satisfy the design requirements of Section 255 and the federal procurement requirements of Section 508.

For more information on telecommunications products, consult the Access Board's article Telecommunications Products or the DO-IT publication Use of Telecommunications Products by People with Disabilities.

Last update or review: January 22, 2013