Washington State Web Accessibility Laws

September 12, 2019 BY JACLYN LAZZARI
Updated: June 16, 2021

Did you know that Washington, along with several other states, has a state-wide web accessibility policy modeled after Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act? Section 508 references the need for digital information, products, and services provided by the federal government to be fully accessible to Americans with disabilities.



IT Accessibility Policy 188

Washington state’s web accessibility policy consults Section 508, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative for “best practices for procuring, creating, and maintaining accessible information technology.” The Washington state IT accessibility policy is hosted by the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO). Accessibility policies, procedures, and guidelines are referenced in Policy 188.

The Purpose of Policy 188

What is the purpose of having an IT accessibility standard? The intent is to ensure equal access to IT information and data for people with disabilities.

Policy 188 Purpose Statement
This policy establishes the expectation for state agencies that people with disabilities have access to and use of information and data and be provided access to the same services and content that is available to persons without disabilities unless providing direct access is not possible due to technical or legal limitations.

[…] Information Technology should be procured, developed, maintained, and used so that it is accessible to individuals with disabilities, unless it creates an undue burden on the agency. Information Technology, including Web sites, Web-based applications, software systems, and electronically published documents, should provide the same functionality to individuals with disabilities as it provides to others.

As referenced in Standard 188.10, the minimum level of compliance for accessibility is Level AA compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

All Washington state offices and their websites must be Section 508 compliant internally and externally. This includes state colleges and universities, which must ensure that all eLearning materials are designed inclusively. That means adding alt text to graphs, providing transcripts of audio recordings, and closed captioning online video, for a start. When a covered technology is not able to be brought into compliance, the system or content owner is responsible to provide individuals with disabilities equivalent access.


 Did You Know That Captioning Is a WCAG 2.0 AA Requirement? Find a Captioning Solution Today. 

Setting the Stage for Accessibility

The University of Washington sets a strong example for other institutions of higher education around the country. Its state- and federally-funded DO-IT program — which stands for Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology — is on the cutting edge of accessible web design for education.

UW Technology Accessibility Specialist Terrill Thompson presented alongside developers from YouTube, JW Player, and Video.js for the webinar The Future of Video Player Accessibility, where he showcased DO-IT’s custom multimedia player, Able Player.

Able Player was designed with accessibility in mind: it’s keyboard-accessible, it has good visual contrast for controls, and it accepts closed captions and audio description tracks, as well as a sign-language sidecar video as needed. Able Player is open-source and available on GitHub.

Other U.S. State Accessibility Laws

Click on the map below to learn more about captioning and web accessibility laws in other states.


Companies everywhere are creating accessible videos, are you ready to join them?


Start Captioning Today or learn more about 3Play Media.

This post was originally published in November 2015 by Emily Griffin and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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