Section 508 Design Standards
What is 508?
Section 508 is a 1998 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Among other
things it sets forth accessible web design requirements. These requirements
legally apply to federal web sites only. They may be required contractually,
many federal contracts including Department of Education grants include specifications
calling for either "accessible" or "508 compliant" web sites
related to grant projects.
University of Oregon and Accessible Web Design Standards
The University of Oregon has not officially adopted a set of accessible web
standards. The Disability Services Office (DS)
for the UO advises that official university web sites be designed 508 compliant.
The other recognized set of standards is published by the W3C. Their current
proposed standards may be found here: http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/
Because they are more concise, 508 is the DS recommended design standard for
For a more complete explanation of 508 web design guidelines go to: http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.22.htm#(a)
The following are the main points of 508 as it applies to accessible web design:
- A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided.
- Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized
with the presentation.
- Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color
is also available without color, for example from context or markup..
- Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated
- 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.
- Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables.
- 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.
- Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification
- Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency
greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.
- A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be
provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of these standards,
when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the
text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation
- When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given
sufficient time to indicate more time is required.
Designing Web Accessibility at the
U of O
University of Oregon
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This site is maintained by James Bailey, the university's Adaptive Technology
Access Adviser. Updated: 12/04