Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (2008), requires that communications with people with disabilities be as effective as communications to those without disabilities. This means that to be compliant, school districts must make reasonable modifications to technology tools and websites to ensure equal opportunities and access to content, software, and equipment for people with disabilities.
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) does not specifically state that schools must adhere to a specific standard, but it does require that schools provide accessible alternative formats upon request.
Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act (IITAA) 2.0 requires Illinois agencies and universities to ensure that their websites, information systems, and information technologies are accessible to people with disabilities. IITA is based on the federal Section 508 Standards, and K-12 entities are not required to meet guidelines.
In 2017, the U.S. Access Board updated accessibility requirements covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communications Act, aligning standards with WCAG 2.0 guidelines and requiring that websites at any federally funded organizations comply with the updated 508 Standards beginning on January 18, 2018.
Four Main Principles. IT Communications must be:
Perceivable — Web content is made available to the senses;
Operable – Interface forms, controls, and navigation are operable;
Understandable – Content and interface are understandable;
Robust – Content can be used reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
Affected Communications. Public-facing electronic communications, such as websites, documents and media, blog posts, and social media sites. Private-facing communications, such as 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 acknowledgements or receipts, questionnaires or surveys, templates or forms, educational or training materials, and web-based intranets.
Safe Harbor Clause. Existing ICT, including content, that meets the original 508 Standards does not have to be upgraded to meet the refreshed standards unless it is altered (E202.2). Any component or portion of existing, compliant ICT that is altered after the compliance date (January 18, 2018) must conform to the updated 508 Standards.
Section 508 Standards are the federal requirement for accessibility. Section 508 is based on the WCAG 2.0 Standards.