H-1297-1 Handbook for Creating Section 508 Compliant Documents (P)
Rel. No. 1-1766
Chapter 1 - Introduction to 508 Compliance
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 508) requires the federal government to
ensure that the electronic and information technology that it develops, procures, maintains, or
uses is accessible to persons with disabilities. 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 hardware, software applications and operating systems, web-
based information and applications, computers, telecommunications products, video and multi-
media, and self-contained closed products.
The BLM no longer prints many of its documents, but posts them to the internet. While
documents are now much more accessible, and it is a very cost effective and an environmentally
responsible way to distribute information, individual authors now assist in carrying out the
requirements to ensure Section 508 compliance. This handbook provides step-by-step
instructions to assist BLM employees in creating accessible documents compliant with Section
Thanks to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group for all of their work on this document.
What is 508 Compliance?
508 Compliance is a web-based standard by which documents, video, multimedia, and
websites are developed to allow equal access to information for all individuals with sensory
impairments. Individuals with visual or hearing impairments can then use assistive
technology software to interpret the content and provide either screen captions or have the
content read out loud to the user.
Section 508 requires that when any federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use
electronic information technology, any person with a disability has access to and use of
information, and data that is comparable to the access and use by federal employees who are
not individuals with disabilities.
How does this law impact my program?
All federal agencies are required to ensure that their websites and the contents are
compliant with Section 508 of the Act.
Video that appears on government websites must be captioned for the deaf and hard
PDF documents and forms on government websites must be accessible to blind and low
vision individuals, both government employees and the general public.