This is a ‘living’ document that examines the application of the Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) Accessibility Standards of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 as they apply to web-based application development. This legislation requires that information delivered via Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) must be made accessible to disabled users in the Federal Government as well as the general public.
Subsequently, this development methodology is intended to be a starting point for incorporating accessibility into software design based on the Section 508 legislation and the Guide to Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology developed by the Federal Access Board. As new information becomes available and experience gained in the definition, interpretation, and application of accessible technology standards, it is expected that this methodology will be refined and expanded. The introduction of new software technology, programming languages, and systems integration technologies as well as advancements in assistive/adaptive technologies will also help to redefine and improve this methodology. It should further be noted that at the time of this document’s publication, the Federal Access Board was revising their current Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology and anticipated offering new training programs for developers of EIT in the near future.
The development methodology has been designed to produce web-based software applications that are (1) compliant with the Section 508 Technical Standards in effect at the time of the analysis, and, (2) accessible to disabled users and users of assistive technology.
To attain compliance with Section 508 technical accessibility standards requires a multi-phased approach:
systems managers, software developers, government customers and contractors must be educated regarding Section 508 and advised in the correct application of the standards as they apply to NASA Headquarters
existing applications must be tested and evaluated for Section 508 compliance
applications currently in development must be re-evaluated to assure compliance in the delivered software products
The approach for making an application compliant with Section 508 will vary depending on the application’s state of development (i.e., renovation of existing web-based applications or new development). Incorporating Section 508 development standards at the start of the development lifecycle will reduce labor and cost significantly as compared to the cost and labor of modifying an existing application’s coding.
There are two significant coding issues facing the renovation process for existing applications at NASA Headquarters (HQ).
This document provides a development framework that will support successful renovation of existing software applications and the development of new accessible software products. This framework consists of:
an explanation of Section 508
an understanding of the design requirements of Section 508 and recommendations for implementing them
a methodology for incorporating Section 508 requirements into the software development lifecycle to assure compliance
tools to assist accessible development, e.g.,
Software applications analyzed during the production of this document were a combination of ColdFusion-based web applications with database application support.
Note: It is recommended that hard copies of this document be printed on a color printer due to the treatment of accessibility features in Appendix A – Technical Standards Table.