[Athen] Section 508 Refresh - Now In Effect?

Gaeir Dietrich gdietrich at htctu.net
Tue Mar 21 13:03:23 PDT 2017

As it is written, Section 508 applies only to the federal government. There are about a dozen states (California is one) that have adopted all or part of Section 508 as state law. Even in those states, the laws may or may not apply to a specific college. In California, for instance, the law applies to the community colleges (CCCs) and to the California state universities (CSUs), but not to private universities or to the University of California (UC) system.

That being said, Section 508 is a good standard for campuses to adopt as part of their procurement processes. If you read recent OCR cases, you will find that the resolutions contain language about technology that is developed, used, and procured by campuses. That language is based directly on Section 508.

OCR complaints are brought under the ADA and Section 504, but if a campus follows the Section 508 standards, the college will find it easier to meet their legal obligations under the ADA and Section 504.

The main issue here is that the ADA and Section 504 focus on providing auxiliary aids and services (accommodations) to students with disabilities. Such accommodations must be equally effective to what can be used by nondisabled peers. Finding “equally effective” accommodations for much technology is simply not feasible. The only way for the technology to be equally effective is for it to be accessible out of the box. It is this conundrum that has shifted the focus of technology complaint resolutions towards Section 508.

Section 508 is about access, not accommodation, and providing access from the start is really the only solution for dealing with much technology.

If you want something concrete to take to your colleagues, refer them to the Dear Colleague Letter of June 2010. This DCL and the associated FAQs absolutely do apply to every college in the country that accepts federal funding (which is all but about three).



Gaeir (rhymes with "fire") Dietrich
HTCTU Director


From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Kressin, Lori L. (llk2t)
Sent: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 8:52 AM
Subject: [Athen] Section 508 Refresh - Now In Effect?

Good morning all,

Here we are on March 21, 2017. Does that mean that the refresh of Section 508 is now in effect?

I have not heard anything to contrary, but I certainly could have missed something.

What is the general thought - is this the standard that you and your institution will now follow?

Thanks for your input,


Lori Kressin
Coordinator of Academic Accessibility

Office of the Executive VP and Provost • Univ. of Virginia

102 Cresap Rd • POB 400199 • Charlottesville, VA • 22903

[434] 982-5784

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