The Safe Harbor provision says that any Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that meets the 2000 Section 508 standards are exempted until any change or modification to the user-interface has been made to it. If a change occurs, such as contrast of a document, then the new ICT must comply with the new 508 standards.

The functional performance criteria are outcome-based provisions that address accessibility relevant to disabilities impacting vision, hearing, color perception, speech, cognition, manual dexterity, reach, and strength. The functional performance criteria complement the standards by ensuring that the individual accessible components work together to create an accessible product. The functional performance criteria require that technology with:

– At least one mode of operation and information retrieval that does not require user vision shall be provided, or support for assistive technology used by people who are blind or visually impaired shall be provided;

– Audible modes shall be usable for people who are deaf or having hard times hearing shall be provided;

– Speech-based modes for input, control, or operation shall be provided for people who can’t speak;

– Manual operation modes also be usable with limited reach and strength and without fine motor control or simultaneous manual operations; and

– The website shall have features making its use simpler and easier for people with limited cognitive, language, and learning abilities.

Technical Requirements
Hardware and Software

For computers, information kiosks, multi-function copy machines, and the likes, hardware requirements apply if they transmit information or has a user interface. These provisions address closed functionality, biometrics, privacy, operable parts, data connections, display screens, status indicators, color coding, audible signals, two-way voice communication, closed captioning, and audio description.

Computerized codes that direct the use and operation of ICT and instructs ICT to perform a given task or function, including applications and mobile apps, operating systems, and processes that transform or operate on information and data are included in Chapter 5 of Section 508’s software requirements. These provisions cover the interoperability with assistive technology, applications, and authoring tools.

Support Documentation
and Services

Embedded files on the website and databases for any electronic documentation must comply with the requirements for electronic content. Alternate formats must be made available upon request for documentation provided in a non-electronic format. Support services, including help desks, customer services, training services, and automated technical support must accommodate the communication needs of customers with disabilities and include information on access and compatibility features. Access to support documentation and services for the use of ICT is also addressed. Product documentation must cover how to use the access and compatibility features required for hardware and software.

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