Monday, January 15, 2007

Section 508 under review, called obsolete

Section 508 is an omnipresent force for any entity who gets federal funding to contend with. If your college or university is a state school, then this post pertains to you.

If you didn’t already know, the latest version of Section 508, a complex and sometimes difficult to understand law, is under review.
The law, an extension of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, spells out specific rules on making electronic information accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. Section 508 was drafted with good intentions, but, in this dynamic world of ever-evolving technologies, it is finding itself a bit outdated.

Last July, an advisory board was put in place to work up new recommendations for the law. The initial draft proposal is projected to be released in July 2007.

According to an
article in Federal Computer Week,
“The panel said that emerging technologies have made current 508 standards obsolete. Bluetooth and wireless mobile devices, streaming Web video and asynchronous Java and XML-enabled Web sites have become common since the original standards were set in place.”

The article demonstrated the committee’s forward thinking with the comment by committee member Gregg Vanderheiden,a professor at the University of Wisconsin –Madison, “We're trying to create guidelines that not only work today, but also with technologies that are upcoming.”

So, Section 508 as we know it may be in for a major change. Time will tell what revisions the committee comes up with.

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