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Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

To ensure that the federal government would not perpetuate the discrimination that the vocational rehabilitation system was designed to mitigate, Congress enacted civil rights protections for people with disabilities.

On August 7, 1998, Congress amended Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (19 U.S.C. 794d) to expand the federal government's responsibility to provide electronic and information technology which is accessible to, and usable by, people with disabilities. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act specifically covers federal agencies but has an impact on the greater public.

Section 508 requires federal departments or agencies that develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, to ensure that the electronic and information technology is accessible. Section 508 requires that individuals with disabilities seeking information or services from a federal department or agency, have access to, and use of, information and data comparable to that provided to individuals without disabilities. Visual images should also be audio-described so that people who are blind or deaf have equal access.