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Able Tech

Laws Related to EIT

Laws and Guidelines Related to Accessible Programs and Services

Oklahoma's legislation - HB 2197 April 2004

Rehabilitation Act, Section 504 (1973)
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794) prohibits discrimination on the basis of handicap in federally assisted programs and activities.

Americans With Disabilities Act (1990) The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 requires that U.S. programs and services be accessible to individuals with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12131) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public accommodations and requires places of public accommodation and commercial facilities to be designed, constructed, and altered in compliance with the accessibility standards. Title II of the ADA extends this prohibition of discrimination to include all services, programs, and activities provided or made available by State and local governments or any of their instrumentalities or agencies, regardless of the receipt of Federal financial assistance.

A 1996 Department of Justice ruling makes it clear that ADA accessibility requirements apply to Internet resources.

Rehabilitation Act, Section 508, As Amended In 1998
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires Federal departments and agencies to take into consideration accessibility when developing, procuring, or using electronic and information technology. Section 508 also mandated the Access Board to develop standards for compliance. The standards were published in the Federal Register on December 21, 2000 and Federal agencies were expected to be in compliance by June 21, 2001.

In 2001 the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) developed standards to which Web pages of federal agencies must comply (

The Technology Related Assistance for Individuals Act requires that the state agencies of states that accept funding under this Act comply with Section 508. The list of guidelines for accessibility provides a good model even for organizations who are not required to comply.

Implications of Section 508 for Higher Education
Section 508 applies directly to Federal agencies, but its impact is much broader.

  • Some Federal legislation requires compliance to the Section 508 standards as a condition of funding, such as the Assistive Technology Act of 1988. In general, the degree and manner in which these standards "carry down" with Federal funding is not clear and is being explored in a number of court cases.
  • Many state and local government entities and other institutions have voluntarily adopted the Section 508 standards. Examples of states include Texas and Arizona. Universities that have adopted the standards include University of Hawaii and the University of Georgia.
  • Since Section 508 was passed a large effort has been underway throughout the Federal government to make Web sites accessible. Books, Web tutorials, and classes on accessible Web design have been created. Faced with the threat of losing the Federal government as a customer, many software companies have modified their products to make them more accessible.
  • Web publishing programs such as Macromedia DreamWeaver, Microsoft Frontpage, and Adobe GoLive now include features to help design accessible Web sites.

Section 508 - Main Federal Web site supporting Section 508
The Access Board - An independent Federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 - The Access Board

Detailed Information on Section 508

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) develops the common protocols used on the Web to insure interoperability to promote universal access ( The W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has proposed guidelines for all Web authors. As Tim Berners-Lee, Director of the W3C puts it: "The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect."