3 Reasons to Revisit Your Section 508 Accessibility StrategyOn January 18, 2017, the U.S. Access Board (the federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities) published a final rule that jointly updates requirements for information and communication technologies—improving Section 508 standards and Section 255 guidelines in response to market trends and technology convergence. The biggest change is a move from old proprietary standards to adoption of the international standard; WCAG 2.0 A & AA. So, with the updated standards here, there’s never been a better time to take a fresh look at your organizations accessibility policies, procedures and governance.1. New Standards for New TechnologiesYou remember 2000? Those were the halcyon days of Gateway computers, AOL, Windows 2000 and Y2K. It was also the year when the most recent 508 standards were first issued. Since then, the blistering pace of change on the digital landscape has left much of the original 508 standards outdated, irrelevant and misaligned with the needs of millions of consumers. Among other things, the new standards now address accessibility for mobile devices, voice communications, online video and dynamic content. In essence, the updates are more in step with the way people actually consume digital information in the real world.2. WC3 (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA Is Now The StandardToday we can finally say that 508 is equal to WCAG 2.0 A & AA. Accessibility professionals can now focus their compliance efforts, energies and resources on a unified standard. Whereas in the past, the standard an organization could/should adhere to was somewhat arbitrary, the adoption of WCAG 2.0 AA as the single de facto standard should result in less confusion, greater efficiencies and ultimately greater consistency in the design, implementation and accessibility of content for ALL consumers. While Section 508 standards were written for federal agencies to ensure employees of the federal government had comparable access to electronic information, the requirements outlined provide the basis for accessibility standards in the private sector as well. Adopting sound practices for digital accessibility make for good business as it addresses the needs of a growing consumer base with disabilities while at the same time helping reduce the instance of costly litigation.3. New Standards Require New PoliciesFor many organizations, the introduction of these new standards will provide and opportunity to revisit and revise their existing policies, checklists and guides. For some, it will be an opportunity to define policies from the ground up. Many businesses with whom we partner are looking at this moment as a catalyst to re-invigorate and recommit their organizations to practical adoption and application of accessibility standards. This is great news for consumers and businesses alike as we move forward in developing and maintaining customer experiences that are designed to keep pace with the technologies and trends shaping our increasingly connected world. Providing an accessible digital experience is a holistic effort that ideally involves input from cross-disciplines such as Content Strategists, Copywriters, Interaction Designers, Interface Designers, Technologists.Plan for Accessibility in Site DesignIf you’re considering a site redesign, take the opportunity to include WCAG 2.0 AA accessibility support at the outset. It’s far more effective and less expensive to include it up front rather than remediating your site experience at a later date. And, work with an agency that understands accessibility across the entire spectrum of experience design—from concept to code. Primacy’s entire team undergoes accessibility training and frequently helps clients with accessibility planning, implementation and maintenance. At the end of the day, it’s about delivering customer experiences that are positive and intuitive for all online consumers. For more information about Primacy's capabilities visit our ADA Accessibility page.