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As you now know, Section 508, an amendment to the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is a federal law mandating that all information technology and electronic developed, maintained, procured, or used by the federal government must be accessible to people with disabilities. Since the scope of Section 508 is limited to the federal sector, if for instance you have a moving company in Las Vegas and they were online at various sites, you do not need to worry about whether your website or the sites that offer moving reviews are section 508 compliant.

Section 508 doesn’t apply to the private sector which in the case of a moving company is indeed a part of the private sector, nor does Section 508 impose requirements on the recipients of federal funding. On the other hand the NASA Research Park and the Environment is section 508 compliant. Using JavaScript and CSS, primarily for rollovers in left navigation bar, the NASA Research Park site has a center navigation bar that includes an alt attribute to explain the background image within the box, as well as the image links. Another example is the Enabled Online.com: Connecting People with Disabilities website. Since this site is aimed at people with disabilities you would expect it to be section 508 compliant, and it is. As an online magazine about people with disabilities, this site offers both graphic and text formats. The graphic version of the site uses server-side image maps and JavaScript. Design changes could still be instituted on their graphic and text formats such as on the graphic version’s home page if they were to switched to client-size image maps and used alternative text descriptions for the links in the cover photo and logo.

Because accessibility policies like Section 508 vary from country to country, you need to know the differences although most countries, including the European Union (EU), have adopted standards based on the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Just recently I was reviewing the hiring practices of businesses owned by a client who is well known within the property investment marketplace. Obviously Section 508 doesn’t apply to her per see since she is in Australia. But Australia has a similar law known as DDA, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. This act passed by the Parliament of Australia in 1992 promotes the rights of people with disabilities in certain areas such as housing, education and provision of goods and services. It is similar to our own Section 508. I assured her that everything was in order at her businesses and she could rest easy. As it turns out she has even made access to her extensive gardens outside of Sydney were handicap accessible.

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