Background on Web Accessibility Guidelines

The Rehabilitation Act was amended in 1998 by the U.S. Congress to require electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.

Section 508 of the Act sought to eliminate barriers in information technology and give new opportunities to people with disabilities. It encouraged development of standards that federal agencies should use to develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508, federal and local agencies must give people with disabilities comparable access to information that is available to others.

( (

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published the following Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) versions:

The WCAG guidelines established standards to be followed by state and local governments to make web content accessible to a wide range of people with disabilities, “including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these.”

When designing websites, the most common accessibility issues are

  • PDFs lacking OCR
  • Low Color / Contrast
  • Missing Alt tags on image
  • Content opening in new tabs
  • Lack of Captioning on Videos
  • Lack of transcripts for Audio content text surrogates
  • Lack of Heading tags and consistency


See also: