Background

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act and strengthened provisions covering access to information in the federal sector.  As amended, section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires access to the federal government’s electronic and information technology.  It applies to all federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use such technology. Federal agencies must ensure that this technology is accessible to employees and the public to the extent it does not pose an “undue burden.”  The law directs the Access Board to develop access standards for this technology for incorporation into federal procurement regulations.

Shortly after the law was enacted, the Access Board created an advisory committee to develop recommendations on the standards to be developed. The Electronic and Information Technology Access Advisory Committee (EITAAC) consisted of 27 representatives from industry, various disability organizations, and other groups with an interest in the issues to be addressed. In March 2000, the Board published proposed standards for public comment based closely on the committee’s report.  The Board revised the standards based on the comments received and published them in final form on December 21, 2000.  They were later integrated into the Federal Acquisition Regulations.

Section 508 Standards and Related Information

Electronic and Information Technology Access Advisory Committee 

 Timeline:

  • President Clinton signs into law the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, August 7, 1998
  • Board creates the Electronic and Information Technology Access Advisory Committee (EITAAC), September 29, 1998
  • Advisory Committee submits its report to the Board, May 12, 1999
  • Board publishes proposed standards for public comment (Notice of Proposed Rule-Making, NPRM), March 31, 2000
  • Close of comment period, May 30, 2000
  • Board issues final standards, December 21, 2000
  • Board’s standards incorporated into the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), June 25, 2001