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Accessibility Initiative

Section 508 Explained

Tutorials are written to assist web authors in meeting Section 508 requirements.

Section 508 is a 1998 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that establishes federal accessibility guidelines for electronic and information technology. South Carolina has mandated that state agency websites become compliant by July 21, 2006. Winthrop University is included in this state-wide accessibility initiative.

In January 2017, the 508 standards were updated. They go into effect January 18, 2018. To ensure institutions of higher education are in compliance, courts have recommended schools refer to the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 AA). The WCAG is a set of accessibility standards to help guide web teams in making their work more accessible to all, including users with disabilities. The updated 2018 version of the ADA uses the standards published in the WCAG 2.0.

The following list is meant to be a user-friendly interpretation of the sixteen web accessibility standards (a-p) of Section 508. For your convenience, you may also wish to download a printer-friendly Section 508 checklist (pdf).

Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed to view and download forms and information in PDF format.

a) A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via "alt", "longdesc", or in element content).
For every graphic element that is on your page, you must provide an ALT tag. For assistance creating effective ALT tags, e-mail the Web Developer with the graphic and web address where the image will be viewed.
  red arrow  Go to the requirement (a) tutorial.

(b) Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation.
If you have multimedia movies or audio clips on your site, you must provide a text version of the presentation. For more information on this requirement, contact the Web Developerred arrow  Read more details regarding requirement (b).

(c) Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup. 
If you have a table, graph, or image that uses color to organize or differentiate data, you must also include the same information in a format that does not use color. Contact the Web Developer for assistance with this requirement.
  red arrow  Read more information on requirement (c).

(d) Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet. 
If you use cascading style sheets to control the formatting of your text or any other part of your page, contact the Web Developer for a consultation on updating these pages.
  red arrow  Read more details regarding requirement (d).

(e) Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map. 
If you are using an image that has links on different parts of it, you must provide redundant links separate from the image. If you have image maps at all, contact the Web Developer for more information for this item and the next.

(f) Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape. 
If you have image maps on your site or if you do not know what an image map is, contact the Web Developer.

(g) Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables. 
If you are using a table to display information, you must label the rows and columns.
  red arrow  Go to the requirement (g/h) tutorial.

(h) HTML Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers. 
Large tables must have the information embedded into the HTML code. Each Header cell must have an “ID” attribute associated with it. For a tutorial and training on adding “ID” tags to your table in HTML, please contact the Web Developer.
  red arrow  Go to the requirement (g/h) tutorial.

(i) Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation. 
Winthrop pages should not use frames; if you employ frames on your site, contact the Web Developer for information on replacing frames with a suitable alternative.

(j) Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.
Animation should only be used to enhance other page content. If you have a moving image or text on your page, it must move within the stated range so as not to cause seizures in persons with photosensitive epilepsy. Contact the Web Developer for a flicker frequency test if your site includes moving elements.
  red arrow  View a demonstration of requirement (j).

(k) A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a website comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes. 
This rule means including a link to a text-only page when you cannot make a page fully compliant any other way. If you have questions on whether your page needs such a link, contact the Web Developer.
  red arrow  Read more information on rule (k).

(l) When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology. 
This item applies to departments using .asp structure. If your site uses JavaScript, Flash, or other scripting languages, contact the Web Developer for a consultation on updating these pages.

(m) When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in, or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with §1194.21(a) through (l). 
Applets and plug-ins are software programs that extend the capabilities of the browser – giving you, for example, the ability to play audio samples or view movie files. Some examples of plug-ins are Macromedia Shockwave, Apple QuickTime, and RealPlayer. Please contact the Web Developer if you have additional questions.
  red arrow  Read more details regarding requirement (m).

(n) When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues. 
When using online forms, you must label your form field with descriptive text and make sure your tab order is correct, so an individual using assistive technology will be able to fill out the form in the expected order and completely. If you need assistance setting the tab order for your form fields, contact the Web Developer.
  red arrow  Read more details regarding requirement (n).

(o) A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.
This guideline is meant to benefit blind and low vision individuals who use screen readers. Sighted web users can ignore repetitive navigation links as they surf from page to page, but a blind user is subject to listening to the navigation each time they visit a page in the site. For this reason, web authors must provide users a way to skip navigation or other repetitive navigation links. For more information on this requirement, contact the Web Developer.
  red arrow  Go to the requirement (o) tutorial.

(p) When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required. 
This could be an application that faculty may use when giving tests online via Blackboard. If faculty members in your area use such an application, have them contact the Services for Students with Disabilities Office for more information.

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