In a move welcomed by disability groups and advocates, the U.S. Access Board has updated their accessibility requirements for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) within Section-508 of the Rehabilitation Act, to bring it into line with European and WCAG (Level A, AA) standards.
The new rule was announced 9 January 2017 and is in response to market trends and innovations, such as the convergence of technologies. The refresh also harmonizes these requirements with other guidelines and standards both in the U.S. and abroad, including standards issued by the European Commission and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) the globally-recognised consensus standard for web content and ICT.
The U.S. Access Board’s final ruling(link is external) also refreshes guidelines for telecommunications equipment subject to Section 255 of the Communications Act. Indeed, the ruling references Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements in WCAG 2.0 and applies them not only to websites but also to electronic documents and software.
“This is a key development to ensure that ICT which is developed, procured, maintained or used by federal agencies in the US is accessible to, and usable by, people with disabilities,” says Natalie Collins, the Deputy CEO of Media Access Australia.
“Specifically, they have updated the Act to deal with convergence and the functionality according to disability rather than by product type,” she said. “Revisions are also made to improve ICT usability, including interoperability with assistive technologies, and to clarify the types of ICT covered, such as electronic documents, which is a very welcome move.”
“Hopefully, what will happen is that more and more software apps that are developed by US vendors which are required to make their apps accessible in the US, will flow through to Australia, benefiting those with a disability here as well,” adds Collins.
For further information on this new development in the US, you can visit the Access Board’s website(link is external).