Making Your Content Accessible
Section 508 requires governments to provide certain technological accommodations for people with disabilities. You should follow these dos and don’ts to ensure your webpages are 508 compliant:
- Keep PDFs to a minimum; instead use webpages for content.
- If you’re using PDFs, make sure they have readable text (not just a scan of a paper copy).
- If a PDF has readable text, screen readers can read it. If it’s just an image, screen readers will only be able to read the metadata.
- Use H2, H3, etc. headings
- Headings allow the reader to browse the page and zero in on the section they need most
- But don’t rely solely on headings because screen readers offer the option to skip to all the headings on the page.
- Use accurate alt text/tags for every image that contributes to the content.
- “Key” words. Make sure you use the words that are “key” to your content in your page title, body text and meta description.
- You can also change your SEO title to be more descriptive than your page title.
- Don’t use language like “click here” or “read more” for links, because they hold little value as to where the link goes when a user is using a screen reader.
- If possible, avoid using tables for layout. If you must use tables, each table row (and column) should have a label indicating the data it contains. The table should include a summary that describes what purpose the table serves (so that blind or sight-impaired readers are aware of the data they’re about to read).
Checking Your Accessibility
Watch a Screen Reader in Action
In the video below, notice the software announces when it find links, sections of content, and the order in which these are read aloud.
Background About Section 508
Section 508 is a 1998 amendment to the U.S. Rehabilitation Act that requires federal and local governments to provide certain technological accommodations for people with disabilities such as:
- visual impairment (including color blindness and low vision)
- hearing impairment
- physical impairment (for instance, cannot use a mouse)
- cognitive impairment