How Section 504 and 508 Impact Closed Captioning Requirements?

There are many laws for the web accessibility requirements in the United States and it is vital for the captioning providers to understand these laws and their needs completely to offer captions to the customers, that satisfy all the compliance requirements. Out of all these laws, there are three which are considered to be the major video accessibility laws of the country. In this article, you will come across the specific needs of section 504 and section 508.

Rehabilitation Act

The rehabilitation act is one of the three most important video accessibility laws of the United States. The act has funded programs for treating people with disabilities. This act basically started being focused on equal employment rights, affordable accommodations and to financially support the disabled population. But as the time goes and the amendments come, the act started considering a lot of things under it for the disabled individuals. With the rise in the use of the internet, section 508 was made a law, which extended this act to involve the same access rights for the disabled for electronics and information technology as well.

technology students group in computer lab classroom

Section 504

It is considered the very first bill to be passed to declare the civil rights for the disabled population. Along with the federal programs, this law also involves programs that financial support subsidies for colleges, universities, airports, housing, libraries, etc. Section 504 demands agencies to offer equal opportunities to the disabled to participate and get benefited from their programs. It wants the agencies to provide required auxiliary aids like electronic diskettes, interpreters, telecommunication devices for hard of hearing individuals, readers, large printed materials, video captioning and other such methods to ensure these equal chances and provide complete accessibility to the persons with disabilities.

Section 508

This is the law that covers all the access rights to federal programs and other services with respect to electronics and information technology. The main requirement of the law is to have a system that is available to be operated in multiple ways and is not dependent on a single sense of the user so that it can be used easily by the disabled individuals. It also ensures the accessibility of web content. Section 508 states that when an individual or an organization is developing, maintaining or suing some electronic content or information technology, they need to ensure that it should be made in such a way that both the disabled persons or the people without disabilities can access it completely.

Relation Between Section 504 and 508

Now that we have discussed about section 504 and 508, it is important to understand how these two are connected to each other. The agencies under both these sections make sure that all the content published electronically or on the internet is accessible by the disabled population or not. They want all the online content to be compatible with assistive technology that can be easily used by the disabled to get information and for communication purposes. It basically involves technology that can assist them to read and to navigate the electronic content. In case, if it is not possible to make some online content compatible, then the developer has to provide some alternative for that particular content.

There are instances, where a company can meet all the requirements under section 504 of providing the same chances to the disabled individuals and can also make sure effective communication by making its website information available as per section 508 compliance. But, on the other hand, there are also situations when in order to meet all the needs of section 504, a company might need to offer some appropriate auxiliary aid to individuals with disabilities, regardless if its website content meets the section 508 requirements.

Let’s take an example for a better understanding. A blind person, who is requesting an audio version of a report which is publicly available on an agency’s website with section 508 compliances. If necessary, the agency must provide the person with the information in an alternate format like audio.

It is highly important for the agencies offering captioning services to understand that these sections impact their services and they need to include their compliances. Vanan Captioning is one such company that offers both 508 captioning services and 504 captioning services depending upon the needs of the customers.

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