HighEdWeb2008 Conference: Infinite Solutions

Session Details

Section 508 and the Accessibility of Higher Ed Websites

PST21 Poster Sessions Track

Plaster Student Union Ballroom


Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act is a law that requires the federal government to procure electronic and information technology that is accessible to people with disabilities. It is the only place in U.S. law that provides enforceable web accessibility standards (§1194.22) and is used by many institutions and organizations in the United States as a "de facto" accessibility standard.

The National Center on Disability and Access to Education (ncdae.org), in partnership with WebAIM (webaim.org), recently evaluated the Section 508 compliance of 100 randomly-selected Web pages, each from a different higher education website. Although higher education institutions are not necessarily required to comply with Section 508, it represents a minimal accessibility standard that has been adopted by many states and institutions.

The results of the evaluation were a bit surprising. Only three of the 100 pages complied with Section 508. The following is a list of some of the most significant results. The full results and significance of the evaluation will be outlined in this presentation. Resources will also be provided for higher education institutions who wish to improve the accessibility of their Web content.


Jonathan Whiting
Director of Training and Evaluation, WebAIM

Jonathan Whiting, M.S., is the director of training and evaluation at WebAIM. WebAIM is a non-profit organization based at the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University. It is one of the most influential Web accessibility groups in the nation. As an instructional designer, Jonathan has published dozens of articles, tutorials, and other instructional resources. He has also traveled extensively to train hundreds of higher education Web developers, content creators, and other professionals who develop or maintain Web content. In addition to training, Jonathan has also provided Web accessibility evaluations and reports for several higher education institutions.