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Section 508 is a section of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act, which requires federal agencies to provide disabled people with easy access to electronic and information technology, provide for the development of technologies to aid the disabled and help in providing more opportunities for disabled persons. Section 508 mandates that access to information technology for the disabled must equate with that offered to non-disabled individuals.
Relative to disabled workers and others who suffer from disabilities, Section 508 enables them to perform electronic data retrieval and to more readily access information technology as a whole.
Section 508 pertains not only to federal employees, but also to members of the public. Section 508 is pertinent when considering vocational and other forms of rehabilitation that are often undergone by disabled people. Containing similar legislation to that of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), Section 508 was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1986.
To keep up with technological advances, Congress revised the act in 1997. The revisions were also necessary for audit purposes to verify that Section 508 is fully adhered to by government agencies.
Section 508 provides legal recourse to disabled persons who have been purposely deprived of their information technology rights. It benefits the visually impaired using information technology products such as PC screens, for example, by providing large fonts to enhance website viewing or viewing other electronic information, especially when the user is searching for employment or seeking information about daily living needs. Internet applications must provide Braille settings for the visually impaired. Captioning of television programs is an example of how Section 508 has helped to improve the quality of life for those with hearing impairments.