Microsoft and Section 508 RRS feed

  • Question

  • Microsoft's commitment to accessible products and solutions allows us to support government in making accessible technology choices.

    Section 508 reinforces the best practices that our organization already performs. We proactively educate our product teams about accessible design and the Section 508 Access Board standards.

    What is Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act?

    "On August 7, 1998, President Clinton signed into law the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, which covers access to federally funded programs and services.

    "The law strengthens section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and requires access to electronic and information technology provided by the Federal government. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Federal agencies must ensure that this technology is accessible to employees and members of the public with disabilities to the extent it does not pose an 'undue burden.' "

    -U.S. Access Board

    Section 508 addresses various means for disseminating information, including computers, software, and electronic office equipment.

    The Access Board is responsible for developing accessibility standards for such technology for incorporation into regulations that govern Federal procurement practices. The Access Board issued their Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards for Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act in the Federal Register on December 21, 2000. The final standards help Federal agencies determine whether or not a technology product or system is accessible.

    Microsoft and Section 508

    As new regulations such as Section 508 raise awareness of the value of designing and deploying accessible technologies in the workplace, the implications for the estimated 54 million people with disabilities, including 8.5 million who want to work but remain unemployed are limitless.

    Microsoft believes that Section 508 is good for industry, government and, most importantly, for people with disabilities. We work closely with federal IT managers and fellow technology-industry leaders to help government comply with their new regulations. Our hope is that Section 508 will encourage more competition and innovation on accessible technology - which in turn will lead to an increased number of people with disabilities finding employment that suits their talents and skills.

    Today, and in the years ahead, technology has the potential not only to create thousands of new jobs, but also to break down barriers that in the past may have prevented people with disabilities from finding productive and fulfilling jobs. Microsoft is committed to helping make this vision a reality.

    Our Commitment to Accessibility

    At Microsoft, our dedication to accessibility began in 1988 with the launch of Windows 2.0 and continues today with unique accessibility features in Office XP and Windows XP. Since our initial involvement with accessibility issues, we have continued our dedication to improving the accessibility of our products and creating new and better technologies that everyone can use.

    Our Accessible Technology Group has more than 40 people working with product developers, assistive-technology companies and disability advocates to ensure that people with disabilities can use software developed by both Microsoft and other companies. The overall mission of this group is to make accessibility integral to our platforms, products, programs, and services.
    Our strategy is:

    • Develop products, technologies and services that are accessible and usable by all people regardless of their capabilities.
    • Build relationships with the disability community to help us better understand and respond to customer needs.
    • Equip and motivate the development community to produce great accessibility solutions.
    • Empower customers with information to make informed choices about the new and existing products they use.
    Monday, February 26, 2007 6:05 AM