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Who Must Comply with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

In the United States, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides the basis of accessibility compliance. Accessibility goes beyond read-out-loud software and is meant to be all inclusive covering physical and digital properties.

Since the first implementation of Section 508 proved inadequate, the Section was revised in the Federal Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility and Compliance Act of 1998.

You may be aware of Section 508 being associated with digital accessibility. However, the Act has several sections.


Section 501 Prohibits employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the federal sector and in conjunction with 504(d) standards applied to determine violations.

Section 502 Created the Access Board as a central agency to enforce compliance with standards, develop advisory information, and develop and maintain design standards and guidelines, and promote access in society.

Section 503 Prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against individuals with disabilities and requires affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain these individuals.

Section 504 Standards applied to determine violations given a complaint alleging employment discrimination, whether hiring practices, work environment, or electronic accessibility.

Section 505 Defines provisions governing remedies and attorney's fees for Rehabilitation Act of 1973 complaints.

Section 508 Agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information comparable to access available to others; Establishes a minimum level of accessibility.


Below is a list of four of the sections of the Act matched to who is expected to comply.

Section 501 Federal departments and agencies.

Section 503 Contractors and subcontractors who have contracts of $10,000 or more with the federal government.

Section 504 Any agency or business receiving federal funds.

Section 508 All Federal agencies in the development, procurement, maintenance or use of electronic and information technology to ensure disabled employees and the public have comparable access. Reference, the United States Access Board web page, About the Update of the Section 508 Standards and Section 255 Guidelines for Information and Communication Technology. Through litigation, Section 508 compliance extends to non-agency websites available to the public.

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