508 Chapter 2: Scoping Requirements

  1. E201 Application
  2. E202 General Exceptions
  3. E203 Access to Functionality
  4. E204 Functional Performance Criteria
  5. E205 Electronic Content
  6. E206 Hardware
  7. E207 Platforms and Applications
  8. E208 Documentation and Support Services

E201 Application

E201.1 Scope.  ICT that is procured, developed, maintained, or used by agencies shall conform to these requirements.

Advisory E201.1 Scope.  Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794d) applies to federal departments and agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service.

The term “agency” is defined in Section E103 to include the United States Postal Service and other federal agencies and departments as specified in 44 U.S.C. 3502.  That section of the U.S.C. defines agency to mean any executive department, military department, Government corporation, Government controlled corporation, or other establishment in the executive branch of the Government (including the Executive Office of the President), or any independent regulatory agency, but does not include (a) the General Accounting Office; (b) Federal Election Commission; (c) the governments of the District of Columbia and of the territories and possessions of the United States, and their various subdivisions; or (d) Government-owned contractor-operated facilities, including laboratories engaged in national defense research and production activities.

E202 General Exceptions

E202.1 General.  ICT shall be exempt from these requirements to the extent specified by E202.

E202.2 National Security Systems.  This document does not apply to ICT operated by agencies as part of a national security system, as defined by 40 U.S.C. 11103(a).

Advisory E202.2 National Security Systems.  The term National Security System means any telecommunication, or information system operated by the United States government, the function, operation, or use of which involves:

  • Intelligence activities;
  • Cryptologic activities related to national security;
  • Command and control of military forces;
  • Equipment that is an integral part of a weapon or weapons system; or
  • Systems which are critical to the direct fulfillment of military or intelligence missions.

Systems that are critical to the direct fulfillment of military or intelligence missions do not include systems that are used for routine administrative and business applications.  Examples of routine administrative and business applications are payroll, finance, logistics, and personnel management applications.  Routine administrative and business applications are covered by this document.

E202.3 Federal Contracts.  ICT acquired by a contractor incidental to a contract shall not be required to conform to this document.

Advisory E202.3 Federal Contracts. ICT that is incidental to a contract includes materials which are, themselves, not deliverables under the contract.  For example, if a contractor uses money from a contract to acquire a laptop which is used to help create the deliverable for the project, the laptop itself is considered incidental to the contract since it is not part of the deliverable.

E202.4 Functions Located in Maintenance or Monitoring Spaces.  Where ICT functions are operable only from spaces occupied solely by service personnel for maintenance, repair, or occasional monitoring of equipment, such functions shall not be required to conform to the provisions of this document.

Advisory E202.4 Functions Located in Maintenance or Monitoring Spaces.  Where a maintenance or monitoring space is occupied by persons other than service personnel whose job is to maintain, repair or occasionally monitor the ICT, the ICT functions located in that space must be accessible.  A network operations center is an example of a space only for maintenance or monitoring and which is occupied by persons other than service personnel such as operations managers and programmers.

When controls or interfaces of ICT that is located in maintenance or monitoring spaces are operated remotely, they can be located almost anywhere.  Consequently, the functions of ICT they control would not typically be eligible for the exception in E202.4.

E202.5 Undue Burden or Fundamental Alteration.  Where an agency determines in accordance with E202.5 that conformance with the provisions of this document would impose an undue burden or would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the ICT, conformance shall be required only to the extent that it does not impose an undue burden or result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the ICT.

Advisory E202.5 Undue Burden or Fundamental Alteration.  A determination by an agency that conformance to a particular provision would result in an undue burden or a fundamental alteration in the nature of the ICT does not exempt the ICT in its entirety from coverage under this document.  The agency must conform to those provisions that do not result in an undue burden or a fundamental alteration in the nature of the ICT.

E202.5.1 Basis for a Determination of Undue Burden.  In determining whether conformance to the provisions of this document would impose an undue burden on the agency, the agency shall consider the extent to which conformance would impose significant difficulty or expense considering the agency resources available to the program or component for which the ICT is to be procured, developed, maintained, or used.

E202.5.2 Required Documentation.  The responsible agency official shall document in writing the basis for determining that conformance with provisions of this document constitute an undue burden on the agency or would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the ICT.  The documentation shall include an explanation of why and to what extent compliance with applicable provisions would create an undue burden or a fundamental alteration in the nature of the ICT.

E202.5.3 Alternative Means.  Where conformance to the provisions of this document imposes an undue burden or a fundamental alteration in the nature of the ICT, the agency shall provide individuals with disabilities access to and use of information and data by an alternative means that meets identified needs.

E202.6 Best Meets.  Where ICT conforming to one or more provisions of this document is not commercially available, the agency shall procure the product that best meets the provisions of this document consistent with the agency’s business needs.

Advisory E202.6 Best Meets.  Examples of procurements that must conform to the provisions of this document unless they are not commercially available include commercial off the shelf products and products developed in response to federal government procurements. However, this document does not require agencies to procure ICT that does not meet their business needs.

E202.6.1 Required Documentation.  The responsible agency official shall document in writing the basis for determining that ICT that fully conforms to the provisions of this document is not commercially available.  The documentation shall include an explanation of why and to what extent a product conforming to applicable provisions of this document is not commercially available and why the product that was procured best meets the provisions of this document consistent with the agency’s business needs.

Advisory E202.6.1 Required Documentation.  The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) sets forth the documentation requirements for a determination of commercial non-availability by a federal agency.

E202.6.2 Alternative Means.  Where ICT that fully conforms to the provisions of this document is not commercially available, the agency shall provide individuals with disabilities access to and use of information and data by an alternative means that meets identified needs.

Advisory E202.6.2 Alternative Means.  Nothing in this document obviates or limits the requirements of Sections 501 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.  Some individuals may require accommodations even for ICT that fully conforms to the provisions of this document.

E203 Access to Functionality

E203.1 General.  Agencies shall provide individuals with disabilities access to all functionality of ICT, either directly or by supporting the use of assistive technology, and shall comply with E203.  In providing access to all functionality of ICT, agencies shall ensure the following:

1.  That federal employees with disabilities have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access and use by federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities; and
2.  That members of the public with disabilities who are seeking information or data from a federal agency have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to the members of the public who are not individuals with disabilities.

E204 Functional Performance Criteria

E204.1 General.  When agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use ICT, ICT shall conform to functional performance criteria specified in Chapter 3.

E205 Electronic Content

E205.1 Official Agency Communications.  Regardless of the medium or the method of transmission and storage, electronic content that communicates official agency business, as determined by the agency mission, to a federal employee or a member of the public shall conform to Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements specified for web pages in WCAG 2.0 (incorporated by reference in Chapter 1) when the content of the communication includes one or more of the following:

1.  Content that is public facing;
2.  Content that is broadly disseminated throughout an agency, including templates;
3.  Letters adjudicating any cause which is within the jurisdiction of the agency;
4.  Internal and external program and policy announcements;
5.  Notices of benefits, program eligibility, and employment opportunities and decisions;
6.  Forms, questionnaires and surveys;
7.  Emergency notifications;
8.  Formal acknowledgements and receipts; or
9.  Educational and training materials.

Advisory E205.1 Official Agency Communications.  WCAG is written to be technology neutral.  While oriented towards web pages which are defined as being delivered using HTTP, it is straightforward to apply the WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements to all electronic content.

Exceptions:  1.  Electronic content of any of the above types of communications stored solely for archival purposes or retained solely to preserve the exact image of the original hard copy shall not be required to conform to the provisions of this document.

2.  Works in progress and drafts that are not public facing and that are intended for limited internal distribution shall not be required to conform to the provisions of this document.

Advisory E205.1 Official Agency Communications Exceptions.  Nothing in this document, including the exceptions to E205.1, obviates or limits the requirements of Sections 501 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.  In order to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability, an agency may be required to provide reasonable accommodations for federal employees who are individuals with disabilities, or to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures in order to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability.

E206 Hardware

E206.1 General.  Where components of ICT are hardware and transmit information or have a user interface, those components shall conform to the applicable provisions of Chapter 4.

E207 Platforms and Applications

E207.1 General.  Where components of ICT are platforms or applications and transmit information or have a user interface, those components shall conform to E207 and the applicable provisions of Chapter 5.

E207.2 WCAG Conformance.  User interface components and content of platforms and applications shall conform to Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements specified for web pages in WCAG 2.0 (incorporated by reference in Chapter 1).

Advisory E207.2 WCAG Conformance.  WCAG is written to be technology neutral.  While oriented towards web pages which are defined as being delivered using HTTP, it is straightforward to apply the WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements to user interface components and content of platforms and applications.

E208 Documentation and Support Services

E208.1 General.  Where support services or documentation are provided, agencies shall provide support services and documentation in conformance with Chapter 6.