508 Compliance Testing: Uncovering Common Myths and Misconceptions
What is 508 compliance testing?
Prior to delving into what 508 compliance testing is, let’s understand what 508 is all about. For starters, it is used in reference to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. 794d), which requires all federal organizations to ensure that their information and communication technology (ICT) is accessible to people with disabilities.
Section 508 compliance testing is the process of ensuring that ICT products and services are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. It aims at identifying and resolving any accessibility barriers that exist in ICT products or services being offered for use or being used by employees and patrons of a federal government department, agency, or organization that is federally funded.
Section 508 compliance is not just the preserve of federally funded organizations. It is now an established requirement for all businesses seeking to do business with federal organizations and organizations that receive funding from the federal government. The problem is that many organizations and businesses are missing lucrative opportunities in federal organizations and organizations funded by the federal government due to a lack of knowledge about Section 508 compliance.
Knowledge about Section 508 compliance
Although many people in the ICT space are fairly or very familiar with Section 508 compliance, many lack confidence in how to test it. This is especially the case for new businesses and organizations. Unfortunately, this lack of confidence is helping mask some common myths and misconceptions about Section 508 compliance testing, which impacts the approaches businesses and organizations espouse toward Section 508 accessibility.
Section 508 compliance myths and misconceptions
Some of the most common myths and misconceptions about Section 508 compliance testing are as follows:
Using automated Section 508 compliance testing tools is all that is needed to achieve 508 compliance
A great number of people in the ICT space believe that simply adding a 508 compliance tester or toolbar to an ICT property like a website makes it 508 compliant. The truth is that, while automation is a powerful Section 508 compliance testing approach that is getting better and better with each passing year, it alone cannot identify and fix every accessibility issue.
A good example of how automation alone cannot identify and fix 508 accessibility issues could be achieved by using an image as an alternative text. In this case, you will find that an automated 508 compliance tester will be able to detect whether or not an image has alt text, but the tool can’t tell if the description is accurate or detailed enough.
When you test 508 compliance, the benefits are limited
Many people are still not convinced that Section 508 compliance testing is important. For those who are considering having a Section 508 compliant website but are held back by this myth, you can probably agree that delivering an equal browsing experience to everyone who visits your site is the right thing to do, but that is not the only benefit on the horizon.
There are other benefits to Section 508 compliance testing, including better brand sentiment among people with disabilities, who are known to control trillions in disposable income, as well as improved search engine optimization (SEO). Section 508 compliance testing also enhances the usability factor of your ICT product or service. That is because it enables you to improve the experience and functionality of the ICT product or service for your end user. This encourages the retention of your clients and increases the client base.
It means redesigning an ICT product or service
Many people in the ICT space lack the confidence to subject their ICT products or services to 508 compliance testing for fear that it could force them to start working on the product or service from scratch due to the identified non-compliance issues, which would sound both time-consuming and expensive.
While it is true that having an ideal Section 508 compliant product right from the design stage up to the time it is ready for market entry is great, it may not be feasible for millions of people who have ICT products and services that need to be freed so as to access the accessibility opportunities provided by federal organizations and the organizations funded by the federal government. For these people and their businesses, it is not feasible to start working on the compliance of their products and services from scratch.
Working with Section 508 compliance experts like ADACP can help you figure out where to start in making your ICT product or service Section 508 compliant without having to start from scratch.
Get help dispelling the myths holding you back from 508 compliance
If you have fallen victim to believing some of the common myths and misconceptions about Section 508 compliance testing, you are not alone, but you can take action based on the data that clearly speaks for itself about the facts of the matter. The fact is that Section 508 compliance testing is a smart business move with enormous benefits.
Learn more about the benefits of Section 508 compliance testing by talking to a Section 508 compliance-testing expert at (626) 486-2201 to arrange a free consultation or request a quick Section 508 compliance testing quote.