Laws Relating to Accessibility
In 1998, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was amended to include Section 508 that addresses the accessibility of electronic and information technology resources and content.
According to the Federal Register (2000), Section 508 encompasses two main requirements regarding electronic and information technology:
When Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, they shall ensure that the electronic and information technology allows Federal employees with disabilities to have access to and use information and data that is comparable to the access to and use of information and data by Federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency.
That individuals with disabilities, who are members of the public seeking information or services from a Federal agency, have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to the public who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency.
When the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was originally drafted it included Section 504 that focused on the exclusion of persons with disabilities
“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the U.S. …shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed followed by the ADA Amendments Act in 2008. The ADA is the result of discrimination against persons with disabilities. ADA expanded the reach of existing laws. While the Amendments Act is designed to protect the rights of people with disabilities.
The University System of Georgia's website makes the following statement:
As written, 508 does not automatically apply to institutions of higher education, even if they receive federal funding. However, States that receive funds through the Assistive Technology Act are required to comply with 508. Georgia receives funds under the Assistive Technology Act. Tools for Life has served as Georgia’s AT Act Program since 1991 and operates under the University System BoR, Georgia Institute of Technology, AMAC project. Therefore, institutions under the Board of Regents may be required to ensure that electronic and information technology is accessible to individuals with disabilities in compliance with Section 508 standards.
Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board. (2000). Electronic and information technology accessibility standards; Final rule. (36 CFR Part 1194). Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration Federal Register.
University System of Georgia. (2014). Higher Education, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 508. Retrieved from http://www.usg.edu/siteinfo/higher_education_the_americans_with_disabilities_act_and_section_508.