It’s our feeling that the Internet should be accessible to everyone, regardless of any impairments they might have, and this idea of accessibility is gaining ground. More and more companies are taking it upon themselves to ensure that their products and websites are Section 508 and/or WCAG 2.0 compliant. Contact us to find out how we can help you make your product or website more accessible.

What is is accessibility?

Accessibility refers to whether or not a product, be it a website, software interface, mobile device, piece of server hardware or application (to name a few,) can be used by people with (or without) disabilities. Accessibility not only includes those with physical impairments such as blindness or deafness, but also users like the elderly, who may have visual impairments due to advanced age. Many users with disabilities utilize special software (e.g. screen readers) or appliances (e.g. braille printers) to help them successfully navigate a product. The Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 guidelines can help ensure that a product has good accessibility and accounts for the use of these types of aids.

What are Section 508 and WCAG 2.0?

The Section 508 Standards are part of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and address access for people with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. They contain technical criteria specific to various types of technologies and performance-based requirements which focus on functional capabilities of covered products. Specific criteria cover software applications and operating systems, web-based information and applications, computers, telecommunications products, video and multi-media, and self-contained closed products (United States Access Board).

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 cover a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. Following these guidelines will make content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these (W3C).

Why would we want accessibility evaluation for our product/website/company?

If your product is to be purchased and/or used by the government, it is required to meet Section 508 standards. And while the WCAG 2.0 guidelines are not currently mandated by the government, there is a push to make meeting these guidelines a requirement for all websites. In general, ensuring that you follow the Section 508 or WCAG 2.0 standards will make your product or Web content more useable to users.

How can 8-bit Bear help with accessibility evaluations for Section 508 and WCAG 2.0?

The team at 8-bit Bear is well versed in requirements for both Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 (from Level A to Level AAA). We have conducted training for Section 508 and WCAG 2.0, put together style guides to help clients implement Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 compliant features and evaluated numerous pieces of software, hardware and websites for Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 compliance. We not only provide full reports not that identify the current issues, we also provide actionable solutions and spreadsheets to track changes and improvements.