508 Accessibility Overview
Why do Word documents need to be Section 508 compliant?
If electronic documents are not formatted correctly for 508 compliance, people who are blind or have low vision will have difficulty reading and understanding them. In some cases, they may not be able to access any of the information in an electronic document. In addition, non-compliance with the law could result in formal legal complaints and lawsuits against the agency.
When do Word documents need to be Section 508 compliant?
According to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794d), all agency information technology, including electronic documents, are required to be Section 508 compliant.
To support compliance with federal disability and anti-discrimination laws, SSA maintains publishing policies and guidelines for electronic "official agency communications". For more information, see the SSA Internet Accessibility Policy and the SSA Accessibility Resource Center Guidelines for Official Agency Communications.
SSA employees are strongly encouraged to make all "official agency communications" Section 508 compliant.
Although the Section 508 standard does not currently provide a formal definition, communications generally should be made accessible when:
- In final form.
- Distributed to a broad audience (group or component wide) or outside of a Federal agency.
- Federal employees are required to understand how to perform their job duties.
What is the Word 508 Accessibility Toolbar, and how can it help me make 508 compliant Word documents?
The SSA Accessibility Resource Center is pleased to announce a new customized 508 Accessibility Help toolbar that will make it easier for you to comply with the law. If you are a Windows 7 user, the toolbar is now part of your standard Microsoft Word 2010 desktop. The 508 Accessibility toolbar is at the top of your Microsoft Word screen (toward the right).
The toolbar makes it easy to design, test, and fix Word documents for 508 compliance.
The toolbar provides a Word 508 Accessibility 508 checklist that offers simple step-by-step instructions supported by visual guides and short videos on every major topic. The checklist also provides several options to get help.
The toolbar provides a quick link to Microsoft’s built-in automated Section 508 checker, which can help speed up the testing process.
Accessibility Checklist Help
The toolbar provides an index of potential issues and where to find answers.
How do I make my Word documents Section 508 compliant?
The Microsoft Word 2010 508 Accessibility Checklist provides a document author with simple step-by-step instructions and visual guides for testing and fixing accessibility issues in their document. Because this checklist was designed to work hand-in-hand with Microsoft’s Automated Accessibility Checker, it is divided into two steps:
- Step 1 covers how to test and fix five document elements that the Automated Checker does not address.
- Step 2 gives “How to fix” instructions for fourteen document elements identified by the Automated Checker.
Consult Using the checklist for more information on how to use the Accessibility Checklist.