Why is Section 508 compliance necessary and how can you include it in your training content?

Adhering to Section 508 compliance is a requirement for websites. This is important because making your content accessible to people with disabilities means catering to a large population of your prospective customers. And not adhering means losing out on a lucrative segment of market potential. 

It is noteworthy that 508 compliance is not only for including the disabled segment but also makes your content easily accessible to the current demographic you are catering to. Easier access anyway makes your content and your platform more favorable. 

Section 508 compliance is nothing to be wary of. It is easy to be adhered to, by following the undermentioned tips-

1. Location on 508 spectrum-

The developers need to locate where your product would lie on the 508 spectra. Strict adherence to the whole section might not be feasible. You could try to inculcate certain features to make your website more disabled-friendly, but strict obedience might result in a much more costly affair and at the same time, would likely be less visually appealing than its predecessor. Thus, it can pay to be pragmatic to include as many disabled-friendly features as possible without being adamant about it.  

2. Transcript providence for voiceover audio-

It is important to note that people with visual deficiencies need voiceovers for explainer videos to appreciate the content and relate to it. Thus, the inclusion of the same is crucial to make your content disabled-friendly. For this reason, keeping the script up-to-date goes a long way. The creation of text-only pages can also be beneficial in this context for the hearing impaired. 

3. Creation of alt tags and descriptions-

The creation of alt tags and long descriptions for the base content helps people with disabilities to understand the non-text elements. The same logic goes for the images, videos, graphs, charts, tables, graphics, and hyperlinks as well. It pays to not use the generic content for the hyperlinks. Text such as click here and read for more information can mislead them. Instead, you can consider using the alt text to help them figure out the destination of the said link.

4. Testing of the template themes and color contrast 

The template themes and color contrasts of the websites must be checked in the initial stages of the development of the websites. The use of only color-coding to prompt response can make your website inconvenient for the disabled segment of users. There are a few free online tools available to check for any such inconsistencies. Such as, Webaim, and TPGi, etc. can help you in this regard. Especially the few conditions such as deuteranopia, protanopia, and tritanopia are considered for the color contrast options. 

5. Consultation with government agencies 508 checklists

Consulting with the government agencies 508 checklists can help you assess the level of disabled- friendliness of your websites. This exercise helps you keep on track for the same. 

A few more general tips that can help you achieve your goals of disabled-friendliness are-

  • Making the overall navigation consistent and easy. 
  • Providing short keys for major navigation buttons.
  • An accessible menu can be provided for navigation between different sections or screens.
  • Multiple click events should be avoided. 
  • Chunking of the knowledge into structured partitions. 
  • Appropriate font sizing. 
  • Summarising of graphs and charts wherever used.

Only including the above-mentioned pointers is not enough. Periodic analysis of compliance is important to cater to your disabled users which are about 15% of the population according to WHO. Thus, continuous testing to be 508 compliant makes you relevant for them, along with making your content easier to access for the general population.