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Section 508 – what does it mean?

I am not a lawyer. Nothing on this site should be construed as legal advice.


Section 508 is a procurement law, or a law that requires that someone take accessibility into account when making purchasing decisions or contracting for services 1.

When a federal agency wants to purchase computers, telecommunications equipment, multifunction office machines, software, websites, information kiosks and transaction machines, and electronic documents, the Section 508 standards ensure that those purchases are for accessible software and equipment 2.

Section 508 specifies in section that electronic content, software, and support documentation and services must meet Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements from WCAG 2.0. 2. Federal agencies use a template such as the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) to identify the level of accessibility each product has 2.

While Section 508 is specifically the federal government, it has a wider impact than just federal agencies 1. While not specifically required to follow Section 508, many state and local governments have adopted the same WCAG guidelines and VPAT requirements 1.

It is in the government’s best interest to buy software that can be used by anyone regardless of disability.

Additional resources

Section 508 FAQ

  1. Accessibility Fundamentals – Disabilities, Guidelines, and Laws by Deque University[][][]
  2. About the ICT Accessibility 508 Standards and 255 Guidelines by the US Access Board[][][]