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U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Section 508 - Accessibility@FDA

Scope of Section 508


Section 508 applies to Federal departments and agencies; it does not apply to recipients of Federal funds, and does not regulate the private sector. The technical provisions cover technology procured by Federal agencies directly and under contract with private entities, but apply only to those products directly relevant to the contract and its deliverables. While Section 508 does not apply directly to the private sector, EIT vendors selling to Federal agencies should document that their hardware and software meet all applicable Section 508 technical provisions, either directly or through equivalent facilitation.

Section 508 was originally added to the Rehabilitation Act in 1986, establishing general guidelines for technology accessibility. In 1998, Section 508 was amended to require that EIT developed, procured, maintained, or used by Federal agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service be accessible to people with disabilities. This amendment significantly expands and strengthens the technology access requirements in Section 508 by creating binding, enforceable standards and incorporating those standards into Federal procurement regulations. Federal agencies must now use these standards in EIT acquisitions, as well as in-house development of websites and software.

Consistent government-wide standards will make it easier for Federal agencies to meet existing obligations and make technology systems accessible to people with disabilities, and promote competition in the technology industry by clarifying the Federal market's requirement for accessibility in products intended for general use. The amended Section 508 also establishes a complaint procedure and reporting requirements, which further strengthen the law.

The requirements of Section 508 apply to an agency's procurement of EIT, as well as to the agency's development, maintenance, or use of EIT. Individuals with disabilities may only enforce section 508 with respect to procurements. However, they may also enforce rights under sections 501 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which impose related obligations on agencies and, in the case of 504, on recipients of Federal Funds.

Violations of Section 508 have significant ramifications, including:

  • Administrative complaints
  • Civil actions including remedial damages
  • Significant adverse public reaction to FDA not meeting the needs of people with disabilities

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US Food and Drug Adminitration U.S. Department of Health and Human Services