In 1998 the US Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. 794d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others.
"The Board's proposal is responsive to widespread changes and innovations in the IT and communication industries."
AudioEye, Inc. (OTCQB: AEYE) ("AudioEye") today announced that the U.S. Access Board (the Board) has released for public comment a proposed rule updating accessibility standards for information and communication technology (ICT) in the federal sector covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The refresh also covers guidelines for telecommunications equipment subject to Section 255 of the Communications Act.
"The Board's proposal is responsive to widespread changes and innovations in the IT and communication industries," states Sachin Dev Pavithran, Vice Chair of the Access Board. "It is important that the 508 Standards and 255 Guidelines stay abreast of the ever-evolving technologies they cover so that accessibility for people with disabilities is properly addressed."
The proposed refresh updates various requirements to address fundamental shifts and trends in the market, such as the convergence of technologies and the increasingly multi-functional capabilities of products like smart phones.
Another key goal of this update is to promote consistency with other requirements in the United States and abroad in order to improve accessibility and to facilitate compliance. A leading reference, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), is incorporated into the rule and applied to web-based content as well as to offline documents and software.
The proposed rule specifies the technologies covered and contains performance-based criteria as well as technical requirements for hardware, software, and support documentation and services. Access is addressed for all types of disabilities, including those pertaining to vision, hearing, color perception, speech, manual dexterity, reach and strength. The proposed rule is based on recommendations from the Board's Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee (TEITAC) which is comprised of a broad cross-section of stakeholders representing industry, disability groups, government agencies and other countries. It also incorporates public feedback the Board received through the release of two advance drafts of the rule.
In addition to public-facing content - as outlined in existing 508 standards, the proposed rule also establishes new requirements related to a federal agency's dissemination of various types of "digital electronic content that constitutes agency official business or that falls within any of these categories: emergency notifications; initial or final decisions adjudicating administrative claims or proceedings; internal or external program or policy announcements; notices of benefits, program eligibility, employment opportunities or personnel actions; formal acknowledgments or receipts; questionnaires or surveys; templates or forms; and educational or training materials." These categories broadly expand the application of web accessibility best practices not only to the federal agencies themselves, but also on the countless federal contractors and software tool providers that service them. "This is significant development to our business and a validation of our strategy to create leading edge technology to address accessibility, usability and compliance," stated Nathaniel Bradley, Chief Executive Officer of AudioEye. "We are the most cost-effective and complete solution for our government and corporations to address the mandates of web and mobile accessibility."
Public comments on the rule, as well as on a preliminary assessment of its estimated costs and benefits, are due in 90 days. The Board also will hold public hearings on the rule in San Diego on March 5 and in Washington, DC on March 11. In addition, the Board will conduct a public webinar to review the proposal on March 31.
Further information on this rule-making, including a summary of the rule, is available on the Board's website at www.access-board.gov.
Additional, forthcoming and equally significant rulings are anticipated from the Department of Justice (DOJ) that will likely outline similar web accessibility requirements as they pertain to businesses and to state and local governments. In previous public filings, the DOJ has stated that their notice of proposed rule making for these will be published as early as May of this year.
Incorporated in 2005, AudioEye focuses on achieving web access equality and usability for all people through technological expertise and innovation.
The AudioEye Web A11y Management Platform provides publishers full control over the accessibility of their web assets and web environments, allowing the publisher to recognize, remediate, and report its real-time accessibility status.
AudioEye is the creator of the world's most inclusive, cloud-based, cross-platform/cross-browser, audible reader solution for accessible web browsing. AudioEye's flagship product improves the user-friendliness of the web for all users, regardless of their unique abilities.
Whether an individual seeking improved access and usability, or a publisher looking to ensure the highest level of accessibility compliance and reach across electronic information technologies, AudioEye is Your Web Accessibility Ally .
AudioEye's common stock trades on the OTCQB under the symbol "AEYE". Please visit www.audioeye.com for more information.
The company maintains offices in Tucson, New York, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.
Why should you implement Section 508Simple. It is a law. However, besides being a law, every one of us has a vested interest in implementing it. If you or your family or friends or peers have health-related problems, then they may be a candidate for AT. The problems can be as common as needing corrective optics or having hearing loss or struggling with arthritis or having diabetes or enduring nagging aches in the joints or back. As troublesome as the aches and pains are, the odds of them evolving into a limitation are even more disconcerting. Look around. Half the people you see will have some degree of limitation before they retire. The statistics are unsettling. You have a vested and personal interest in Section 508.
It's the right thing to do:
Erickson, W., Lee, C., & von Schrader, S. (2012). 2010 Disability Status Report: United States. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Employment and Disability Institute(EDI).
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