My First Impressions of the Section 508/255 Standards Refresh

The U.S. Access Board recently released its Draft Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines. These are intended to update the existing Section 508 Standards, as well as the guidelines for Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act. The Access Board is soliciting public comment on the new Standards and Guidelines through June 21. Additional information, including a link for submitting public comments, is available on the Access Board's Section 508 Homepage.

A couple of weeks ago I had the good fortune of being on a long flight in a seat that was too cramped to open my laptop, and I seized this opportunity to read the entire 95-page draft of the updated standards/guidelines. Last week, I shared my first impressions with members of the University of Washington Accessibility in IT SIG, and made my notes available in a document titled First Impressions of ICT Accessibility Standards and Guidelines.

As explained in my notes, I find that the updated standards and guidelines are much more comprehensive than the previous Section 508 standards, but they're extremely challenging to sift through. Therefore many of my observations focus more on organizational and linguistic issues than on technical substance. As a person who spends a lot of time working to persuade web and software developers to comply with standards and create accessible content and products, I think it's critical that these standards be understandable.

Since I'm still at the "first impressions" stage, I welcome others' efforts to shape my thinking. Have others read the draft? What are your impressions? How can it be improved?

3 comments on “My First Impressions of the Section 508/255 Standards Refresh

  1. Great point. And how ironic: a web accessibility guideline which in itself is missing the U in POUR! (understandable) WCAG 2 was revised for the same reason after feedback and hopefully this will happen with Section 508/255.

  2. I've been reviewing the early refresh of Sec 508/255 guidelines. My general impression is that the update is certainly quite comprehensive. I like the focus on synchronizing with WCAG. I certainly do agree that the organization requires a second look. I'm preparing comments for ACB and that will be one of my major points.