What is electronic and information technology?
"Electronic and information technology" is a term used in the 1998 amendments to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The term is used to define the scope of products covered under Section 508. Section 508 requires that electronic and information technology that is developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government be accessible.
Electronic and information technology includes computer hardware and software, operating systems, web-based information and applications, telephones and other telecommunications products, video equipment and multimedia products, information kiosks, and office products such as photocopiers and fax machines.
Informally, all of these devices are commonly referred to simply as "information technology," or "IT." However, from a legal standpoint, there was a need to expand upon an existing federal definition of information technology, while maintaining consistency with that early definition.
The federal agency charged with establishing this definition was the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board). Here is the formal definition of both "electronic and information technology" and "information technology" published in the Access Board's Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards:
Electronic and information technology. Includes information technology and any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment, that is used in the creation, conversion, or duplication of data or information. The term electronic and information technology includes, but is not limited to, telecommunications products (such as telephones), information kiosks and transaction machines, World Wide Web sites, multimedia, and office equipment such as copiers and fax machines. The term does not include any equipment that contains embedded information technology that is used as an integral part of the product, but the principal function of which is not the acquisition, storage, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, switching, interchange, transmission, or reception of data or information. For example, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) equipment such as thermostats or temperature control devices, and medical equipment where information technology is integral to its operation, are not information technology.
Information technology. Any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment, that is used in the automatic acquisition, storage, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, switching, interchange, transmission, or reception of data or information. The term 'information technology' includes computers, ancillary equipment, software, firmware and similar procedures, services (including support services), and related resources.
For additional information, consult the following AccessIT Knowledge Base articles:
- What is the Clinger-Cohen Act, and how does it affect people with disabilities?
- What is the relationship between Section 508 and the Clinger-Cohen Act?
- What is accessible electronic and information technology?
- What makes electronic and information technology inaccessible to people with disabilities?