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Section 508 Background Information

US Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act in 1988, requiring Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology can affect an individual's ability to interact with information quickly and easily. Section 508 was implemented to remove barriers in the world of information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals.

Section 508 Implementation

The County of San Diego strives to achieve web accessibility for persons with disabilities by implementing Section 508. Section 508 guidance also recommends that efforts be made to comply with World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards. The County of San Diego works towards meeting these standards.

Section 508 Criteria

Section 508 criteria for web-based technology mainly support access for people with vision impairments who rely on assistance to access computer-based information, such as screen readers, which translate what's on a computer screen into automated audible output, and refreshable Braille displays. Verbal tags, graphics identification, and style labeling, are necessary so that these devices can "read" them for the user in a sensible way. Section 508 also promotes the usability of multimedia presentations, image maps, style sheets, scripting languages, applets and plug-ins, and electronic forms. Moreover, Section 508 ensures the availability of all web mediums in an alternate accessible format.

Section 508 Compliance Table


Criteria Supporting Features Remarks and Explanations
a) A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via "alt", "longdesc", or in element content). Every non-text element has “alt” tag.  “Alt” tag describes content simply and clearly (no "image of" or "picture of" used).  Blank “alt” tags for background or decorative images not conveying information. Note: "Alt" tag refers to alternative text embedded into the scripting.
(b) Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation. Not applicable: no multimedia used  
(c) Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup. Ensured color is not used to convey information. Sufficient contrast in colors is used to accommodate color-deficient users.  
(d) Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet. Background images are not used to convey information, making the site readable with style sheets disabled. Syntaxically correct markup ensures browser and user styles are supported appropriately. If a user has the headers and body text set to a larger font or particular color, the site will revert to the user's preference over the author CSS. When CSS is disabled, the browser default styles will be applied.
(e) Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map. Not applicable: no image maps used  
(f) Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape. Not applicable: no image maps used  
(g) Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables. Not applicable: no data tables with more than two logical levels of information.  
(h) Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers. Not applicable: no frames used  
(j) Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz. Not applicable: no animated gifs, “blink” or marquee formatting used.   
(k) A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes. Not applicable: the site complies with requirements without having to provide a text-only page.  
(l) When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by Assistive Technology.

We have used HTML features over JavaScript wherever possible. 

“Noscript” tag is implemented to compensate for the possibility that a screen reader cannot access the JavaScript in the news banner on the index page.
For example: we used HTML to include all external global elements such as the header, footer, and left hand navigation.  The fly-out menu utilizes JavaScript; however, the information lost without JavaScript is easily accessible via the left-hand navigational links on the associated department page.
(m) When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with §1194.21(a) through (l). Not applicable: design does not utilize any multimedia requiring third-party tools  
(n) When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using Assistive Technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues.

“Alt” tags on Search button and text form

“Label” tag used on the index’s drop-down field entitled “How Do I?”.
(o) A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links. Skip navigation feature included in header.  
(p) When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required. Not applicable: design does not call for timed responses.