Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act established regulations for federal entities to accommodate people with disabilities. It covers physical access — such as wheelchair ramps and elevators — and digital access to information and resources. A major part of digital accessibility is providing captioning for online video content.
Section 508 applies to all federal government agencies and their websites. It does not apply to private industry. However, several states have adopted Section 508 regulations into their own laws, requiring state government entities to comply with federal accessibility standards. Public colleges and universities in these states must be aware of the requirements for accessible media in their state. Schools in states with strict accessibility legislation would need captions or transcripts for all their online course material.
Check the list below for a brief overview of states that have laws or policies for expanded accessibility standards.
Alabama’s Information Services Division states on its website:
“In recognition of those individuals with visual, physical or developmental disabilities the State of Alabama has adopted a policy to make government information accessible to all.”
Web developers for the state of Alabama are asked to comply with universal design standards as outlined by the W3C and Access Board. In their information technology standard document, they cite Section 508 as the standard for accessibility compliance.
The government of Arizona has a stated policy to follow accessible design for information technology.
The California Government Code requires that all electronic and information technology created or used by the state must be fully accessible.
California State University outlines a fairly comprehensive web accessibility policy, with specific enforcement measures to ensure compliance with Section 508. The state uses software to automatically evaluation the accessibility of a website; human due diligence is encouraged in addition.
The university’s robust FAQ page spells out the benefits and characteristics of an accessible website, including “transcripts or captions for audio, video, and multimedia content.”
The Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act (IITAA) demands that all Illinois universities and agencies make their IT accessible. The IITAA is modeled after Section 508 and will reflect updates to that law as they occur.
Indiana has an Assistive Technology Standards Group which ensures state electronic and IT properties mirror Section 508 standards.
Kansas’s state policy demands that state software and IT complies with Section 508 and W3C guidelines at a minimum.
Louisiana state policy encourages Section 508 compliance and sums up why it’s a great standard:
“Federal officials say adhering to Section 508 regulations and improving accessibility for people with disabilities make good business sense. Enabling everyone to do their jobs, using the tools that help them best do their jobs, is simply good business and helps individuals become fully integrated into the workplace.”
In 2009, Minnesota passed the Assistive Technology Bill, which created the STAR program (A System of Technology to Achieve Results). This federally-funded program is proactive about matching people with assistive technology that meets their needs. The law also requires Minnesota to adopt Section 508 and WCAG standards.
Missouri state law holds all state agencies to Section 508 standards, with ‘state agencies’ defined as “each department, office, board, bureau, commission or other unit of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of state government, including public four-year and two-year colleges and universities.”
As of 2010, New York upholds a revised state accessibility policy which partially aligns with WCAG and Section 508.
The Oklahoma Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility law (EITA), passed in 2004, mirrors Section 508 and applies to state agencies, post-secondary schools, and the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education system
All state colleges, state universities, and state agencies must comply with Section 508 and any additional requirements set forth by the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA).
This list will be updated as state laws evolve.
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