Dissemination Toolkit: Accessible Products & Communications

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Background

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was amended in 1988 to require federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. Projects funded by the National Science Foundation should be 508 compliant to increase equal access to materials.

General Resources

Section 508 Requirements and Responsibilities
Section508.gov explains the law and provides guidance and examples of best practices.

Additional Accessibility Resources
The University of Washington's DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Center offers resources to make educational settings and tools accessible.

Video Compliance

Add closed captioning to videos for viewers who can't listen to the audio because they are hearing impaired or in a setting where they cannot play sound. This article outlines 4 reasons why closed captioning is important for every video. 

  • YouTube offers automatic captioning. Note: It's important to edit the automatic captioning for typos and punctuation. Without punctuation screenreaders will read the closed captioning as one sentence.
  • If your video is posted on YouTube or Vimeo, you can use captioning programs such as (free) Amara to add captions to your video. There are several tutorial videos on how to use Amara (see example)

Webinar Compliance

COVID-19 has made virtual meetings the norm. Find tips on making your meetings more inclusive in this article, 9 Easy Ways to Make Your Webinar Accessible.  If you would like to caption your webinar in real time, companies such as CaptionFirst offer this service for a fee.

Website Compliance

You can make your website more accessible by making hyperlink text descriptive, captioning and transcribing audio (including using ALT tags), using a NULL value for unimportant graphics, and using frames sparingly, to name a few examples. Washington University's DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Center has a great overview of how to make your website accessible. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) offers accessibility guidelines and support materials. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides a checklist to evaluate the accessibility of your Web Sites, Web Applications & Software.

Contrast Checker is a tool to test color contrast compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Document Compliance

There are many ways to make documents more accessible. In addition to the advice on the Section 508 website, this information may be helpful:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides checklists to help you evaluate whether your documents are accessible: