In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, open new opportunities for people with disabilities, and 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. ‘794 d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to access available to others.
The South Carolina State Architecture Oversight Committee (AOC) adopted a policy in June 2004 requiring all State agency websites to provide equivalent access to online information, data and services to individuals with and without disabilities. The standards to be used as minimum requirements for state agency websites are those presented in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. In addition to the minimum requirements, the AOC also recommends following “best practices” as defined by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.
In an effort to have a web presence that is accessible to the widest possible range of users, the College of Charleston has implemented compliance techniques defined by the Federal government. These techniques allow agencies to comply with Federal regulations that ensure that people with differing abilities will be able to have access to the Internet. The State of South Carolina has outlined minimal requirements and best practices in providing accessibility to web sites. There are sixteen standards for Web-based intranet and internet information and applications. These features you have in your web site will determine which compliance techniques you should implement. These standards are available at cofc.edu/accessibility/web/.
Additionally Video and Multimedia must be accessible. The standards require captioning and audio description for certain training and informational multimedia productions developed or procured by Federal agencies. The standards also provide that viewers be able to turn captioning or video description features on or off. The standards for Video and Multimedia are available at cofc.edu/accessibility/video-multimedia/.