Chapter 2: Description of Standards

2.1 Final Standards

The section 508 standards are to be used by Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, and use electronic and information technology. The standards are to be applied prospectively and do not require Federal agencies to retrofit existing electronic and information technology. As agencies upgrade and change their electronic and information technology, they must comply with the standards. Table 2-1 summarizes the final standards.

Table 2-1 Final Standards

§ 1194.21 Software Applications and Operating Systems

(a) Keyboard
Execute product functions from a keyboard, when software is designed to run on a system with a keyboard and the function or the result of performing the function can be discerned textually.

(b) Compatibility
Do not disrupt or disable activated accessibility features of other products, where those features developed and documented according to industry standards. Do not disrupt or disable activated accessibility features of any operating system, where application programming interface for those features has been documented by the operating system manufacturer and is available to the product developer.

(c) Visual focus indicators
Provide well-defined and programmatically exposed visual focus indicator for interactive interface elements as input focus changes so assistive technology can track focus and focus changes.

(d) User interface element
Provide information to enable assistive technology to understand the identify, operation, and state of the element. When an image represents a program element, information conveyed by the image must also be available in text.

(e) Bitmap images
Must be assigned consistent meaning throughout application's performance when used to identify controls, status indicators, or other programmatic elements.

(f) Textual information
Provide textual information through operating system functions for displaying text, including text content, text input caret location, and text attributes.

(g) Display attributes
Do not override user selected contrast and color selections and other individual display attributes.

(h) Animation
Display information in at least one non-animated presentation mode at option of user when animation displayed.

(i) Color coding
Do not use color coding as only means of conveying information, indicating an action, prompting a response, or distinguishing a visual element.

(j) Color and contrast settings
Provide variety of color selections capable of producing a range of contrast levels when a product permits a user to adjust color and contrast settings.

(k) Flashing or blinking text
Do not use flashing or blinking text, objects, or other elements having a flash or blink frequency greater than 2 HZ and lower than 55 Hz.

(l) Electronic forms
Provide a format that allows access via assistive technology to information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including directions and cues.

§ 1194.22 Web-Based Intranet and Internet Information Applications

(a) Text Equivalent
Provide text equivalent for every non-text element (e.g., via "alt," "longdesc,"or in element content.

(b) Multimedia presentation
Synchronize equivalent alternatives for multimedia presentation with presentation.

(c) Color
Design web pages so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color (e.g., from contrast or markup).

(d) Organization
Organize documents to be readable without requiring an associated style sheet.

(e) Server-side image maps
Provide redundant text links for each active region of server-side image maps.

(f) Client-side image maps
Provide client-side image maps instead of server side image maps, except where regions cannot be defined with available geometric shape.

(g) Data tables
Identify row and column headers for data tables.

(h) Multi-logic row or column headers
Use markup to associate data cells and header cells for data tables with two or more logical levels of row or column headers.

(i) Frames
Title frames with text that facilitates identification and navigation.

(j) Flicker
Design pages to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.

(k) Text-only equivalent pages
Provide text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, to comply with standards when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. Update content of text-only page whenever primary page changes.

(l) Scripting language
Identify information provided by the script with functional text readable by assistive technology when pages utilize scripting languages to display content or to create interface elements.

(m) Applets and plug-ins
Provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with § 1194.21 (Software Applications and Operating Systems)when web page requires applet, plug-in, or other application to be present on the client system to interpret page content.

(n) Electronic forms
Provide a form that allows access via assistive technology to information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including directions and cues.

(o) Content tracking
Provide method that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.

(p) Timed response
Alert user when timed response is required and give sufficient time to indicate more time is required.

§ 1194.23 Telecommunications Products

(a) Non-acoustic connection point for TTYs
Provide standard non-acoustic connection point for TTYs for telecommunications products or systems that allow voice communication and do not have a TTY functionality. Microphones must be capable of being turned on and off to allow user to intermix speech with TTY use.

(b) TTY signs
Support all commonly used cross-manufacturer non-proprietary standard TTY signal protocols when telecommunication products include voice communication functionality.

(c) TTY compatibility with voice response systems
Make voice mail, auto-attendant, and interactive voice response telecommunications systems usable with TTYs.

(d) Timed response
Give an alert that time interval is about to run out when voice mail, messaging, auto-attendant, and interactive voice response telecommunications systems require a response from user within a time interval, and provide sufficient time for user to indicate that more time is required.

(e) Caller Identification
Make caller identification and similar functions available for TTY users and users who cannot see displays where caller identification is provided.

(f) Volume control
Provide a gain adjustable up to a minimum of 20 dB for transmitted voice signals, and at least one intermediate step of 12 dB of gain for incremental volume control.

(g) Default volume level reset
Provide a function to automatically reset the volume to the default level after every use if the telecommunications product allows user to adjust the receive volume.

(h) Audio transducer
Provide a means for effective magnetic wireless coupling to hearing technologies where telecommunications product delivers output by audio transducer normally held up to the ear.

(i) Interference reduction
Reduce interference to hearing technologies (e.g., hearing aids, cochlear implants, assistive listening systems) to the lowest possible level that allows user of hearing technologies to utilize the telecommunications product.

(j) Pass through standard codes
Pass through cross-manufacturer, non-proprietary, industry-standard codes, translation protocols, formats, or other information necessary to provide information in usable format in products that transmit or conduct information or communication. Do not remove information needed for access or restore it upon delivery when technologies use encoding, signal compression, format transformation, or similar techniques.

(k) Mechanically operated controls
Provide controls and keys that are tactilely discernable without activating the controls or keys, and that are operable with one hand and do not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. Force to activate controls or keys must be 5 lbs. (22.2 N) maximum. If key repeat is supported, delay before repeat must be adjustable to at least 2 seconds and key repeat rate must be adjustable to 2 seconds per character. Status of all locking or toggle controls or keys must be visually discernable, and discernable through touch or sound.

§ 1194.24 Video and Multimedia Products

(a) Television displays
Equip analog television displays 13 inches and larger, and computer equipment that includes analog television receiver or display circuitry, with caption decoder circuitry which appropriately receives, decodes, and displays closed captions from broadcast, cable, videotape, and DVD signals. As soon as practicable, but not later than July 1, 2002, widescreen digital television (DTV) displays measuring at least 7.8 inches vertically, DTV sets with conventional displays measuring at least 13 inches vertically, and stand alone DTV tuners, whether or not they are marketed with display screens, and computer equipment that includes DTV receiver or display circuitry must be equipped with caption decoder circuitry which appropriately receives, decodes, and displays closed captions from broadcast, cable, videotape, and DVD signals.

(b) Television tuners
Equip television tuners, including tuner cards for use in computers, with secondary audio program playback circuitry.

(c) Captioning
Provide open or closed captions on all training and informational video and multimedia productions which support the agency's mission, regardless of format, that contain speech or other audio necessary for comprehension of content.

(d) Audio description
Provide audio description for all training and informational video and multimedia productions which support the agency's mission, regardless of format, hat containvisual information necessary for comprehension of content.

(e) User control
Make display or presentation of alternate text presentation or audio descriptions user-selectable unless permanent.

§ 1194.25 Self-Contained, Closed Products

(a) Usability
Make self-contained products usable by people with disabilities without attaching assistive technology. Personal headsets for private listening are not assistive technology.

(b) Timed response
Alert user when timed response is required and give sufficient time to indicate more time is required.

(c) Voice output
Provide input method that complies with § 1194.23 (k) (1) through (4) where product utilizes touch screens or contact-sensitive controls.

(d) Biometric identification
Provide alternative form of identification or activation which does not require user to possess particular biological characteristics when biometric forms of user identification or control are used.

(e) Auditory output
Provide audio signal at a standard signal level through an industry standard connector that will allow for private listening when products provide auditory output. Provide ability to interrupt, pause, and restart audio at any time.

(f) Volume control
Provide incremental volume control with output amplification up to a level of 65 dB when products deliver voice output in a public area. Where ambient noise level is above 45 dB, volume gain of at least 20 dB above the ambient level must be user selectable. Provide function to automatically reset volume to default level after every use.

(g) Color coding
Do not use color coding as only means of conveying information, indicating an action, prompting a response, or distinguishing a visual element.

(h) Color and contrast
Provide a range of color selections capable of producing a variety of contrast levels when a product permits user to adjust color and contrast settings.

(i) Flicker
Design products to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.

(j) Reach ranges
Make operable controls comply with reach ranges in § 1194.25 (j) (1) through (4) when products have operable controls and are free-standing, non-portable, and intended to be used in one location.

§ 1194.26 Desktop and Portable Computers

(a) Vision
Provide mechanically operated controls and keys that comply with § 1194.23 (k) (1) through (4).

(b) Touch screens
Provide input method that complies with § 1194.23 (k) (1) through (4) if product utilizes touch screens or touch operated controls.

(c) Biometric identification
Provide alternative form of identification or activation which does not require user to possess particular biological characteristics when biometric forms of user identification or control are used.

(d) Expansion joints
Make at least one of each type of expansion slots, ports and connectors provided comply with publically available industry standards.

§ 1194.31 Functional Performance Criteria

(a) Vision
Provide at least one mode of operation and information retrieval that does not require user vision, or support for assistive technology.

(b) Visual acuity
Provide audio output and enlarged print output working together or independently at least one mode of operation and information retrieval that does not require visual acuity above 20/70, or support for assistive technology.

(c) Hearing
Provide at least one mode of operation and information retrieval that does not require hearing, or support for assistive technology.

(d) Audio information
Provide at least one mode of operation and information retrieval in enhanced auditory fashion where audio information is important for use of a product, or support for assistive technology.

(e) Speech
Provide at least one mode of operation and information retrieval that does not require speech, or support for assistive technology.

(f) Motor skills/ coordination
Provide at least one mode of operation and information retrieval that does not require fine motor control or simultaneous actions and that is operable with limited reach and strength.

§ 1194.41 Information, Documentation, and Support

(a) Product support documentation
Make product support documentation provided to end-users available in alternate formats upon request for no additional charge.

(b) Accessibility and compatibility features
Provide end-users access to a description of accessibility and compatibility features of products in alternate formats or alternate modes upon request at no additional charge.

(c) Support services
Accommodate communication needs of end users with disabilities when providing support services for products.

2.2 Baseline of Technology

The section 508 standards will affect a wide variety of electronic and information technology. The state of each technology fluctuates relative to the level of research and development invested in the product. Investment in some products has remained relatively static since their first introduction to the market. However, many more have changed in leaps and bounds in the small period of time that they have been in the market. The best example of this dynamic environment is the evolution of the Internet and the number of applications it has today versus five years ago. Table 2-2 provides a general overview of the state of the baseline technology.

Table 2-2 Baseline of Technology

§1194.21 Software applications and operating systems
Programming capability exists to meet standards. Compliant products available. Some products may require modifications to satisfy standards.

§1194.22 Web-based intranet and internet information and applications
Programming capability exists to meet standards.

§1194.23 Telecommunications products
Complaint products available or are under development.

§1194.24 Video and multimedia products
Compliant products available or are under development. Technology exists to provide captioning and audio description.

§1194.25 Self- contained closed products
Technical capability exists to meet standards. Products may require modifications to meet standards.

§1194.26 Desktop and portable computers
Technical capability exists to meet standards. Compliant products available. Some products may require modifications to meet standards.

§1194.31 Functional performance criteria
Programming and technical capability exists to meet standards. Some products may require modifications to meet standards.

§1194.41 Information, documentation, and support
Alternate formats exist, extent of availability may be limited. Materials need to be developed for new products describing accessibility and compatibility features. Additional support services may be required.