Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was a part of the 1998 amendment. It states that all federal electronic and information technology (EIT) should be accessible to all people with disabilities just as it is accessible to other members of the public. It puts all federal agencies under the obligation of section 508 remediation. They should only create ADA-compliant EIT to ensure that whoever accesses the data can thoroughly comprehend and work with the information.
Why is 508 compliance Important for Your Business?
Apart from federal agencies, most businesses strive to create online content as per 508 compliances. Any company that deals with digital products or services must adhere to accessibility standards for the content they share on their website and the final product they share with their clients. It is not only helpful for the target audiences but holds a plethora of benefits for your business as well.
Importance of Section 508 Compliance for a Business
Section 508 was created only for federal agencies. However, if you are a business that associates with a federal agency or receives funds from them – it is advisable to follow the accessibility standards for 508 compliances. It will help avoid the risk of a lawsuit and the associated litigation fees or fines for your business.
Any business that tries to improve its accessibility standards shows that it cares about its users and not just profits. It builds a reputation for social responsibility and inculcates trust in your brand among your users. It reflects the moral values of the brand and contributes to a positive and accessible brand image.
In the United States, one in four adults lives with some form of disability. If your content is not compliant with accessibility standards, you are likely missing out on a large segment of your target audience. Completing 508 compliance testing before sending any content, technology, or product out into the market – will ensure that all the customers with disabilities prefer your brand instead of your competition.
If a large section of your target audience cannot access the product or service information, you may spend significant time, effort, and money answering their queries. You may need to dedicate extra resources to educating this section of your audience. Creating 508-compliant content saves time, effort, and costs by enabling customers to access the information independently.
Optimization of your business’s online presence is critical. Improving accessibility through 508 compliance works makes your content SEO-friendly. For better 508 compliance, you must add transcripts for video and audio content, alt text for images, heading tags, and follow a consistent content structure. There is a greater chance of your website’s organic search rankings improving as you improve accessibility.
Improving the Overall User Experience
Similar to enhancing the SEO for your content, adhering to accessibility standards can also improve your customer experience. A consistent, well-designed content structure will enable users to find the necessary information. It will boost user experience by offering inclusivity and clarity to everyone who accesses your website, services, or products.
Partnering With Federal Organizations
No business in the United States would like to forego an opportunity to work with a federal organization. Usually, national organizations partner with private companies for long-term contracts and purchase services or products in large volumes. If you wish to prepare your business to qualify for business opportunities with the US government, you must begin complying with section 508 immediately.
Continual audit of your products, services, and content for better accessibility may lead you to interesting insights. Such insights can enable your product designers to innovate and improve your product or service to suit all sections of the audience.
508 compliance for improving accessibility is a perpetual process. You must work to audit your content, product, and services to check for 508 compliances at every step. You should also include accessibility standards as a prerequisite for any new content or communication your business creates. There are also various document remediation programs and accessibility experts who can help your business establish a process to ensure 508 compliance.