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The Graduate Health & Life Sciences Research Library at Georgetown University Medical Center

Accessibility and Disability

Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. § 794d) requires that Federal agencies' electronic and information technology be accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Accessible Information Technology, is technology that can be used by people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. It incorporates the principles of universal design, where each user can interact with technologies in ways that work best for the patron.

In the following subsections we will discuss website accessibility, accessibility within DML resources, and Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs).

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the gold standard for electronic resources accessibility. Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. More specifically, people can: perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web. The guidelines are broken into four different principles.

  1. Perceivable-Information and user interface components are presented in such a way that users can perceive (or understand) the information.  
  2. Operable-user interface components and and navigation must be operable 
  3. Understandable-information and operation of the user interface must be understandable
  4. Robust-information must be substantial enough that the information can be interpreted by wide-variety of user agents including assistive technologies.

Each principle has many sections. There are different levels of success in meeting these four principles and the sections within. 

  • A-basic levels of each principle have been met
  • AA-intermediate levels of each principle have been met 
  • AAA-highest level of passing on each of the sections have been met