Case Study Examples and Step-by-Step Instructions to Convert Word Documents to Section 508 Compliant PDFs

Comments Off on DOJ 2012 Section 508 Report to the President and Congress

DOJ 2012 Section 508 Report to the President and Congress

DOJ 2012 Section 508 ReportDid you know that reports on Section 508 status and compliance had to be submitted to the President and Congress?  Actually, the Attorney General has to submit reports.

Among all the other legalese in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. § 794d), the Attorney General is directed to submit reports to the President and Congress with the status of federal agency compliance.

DOJ 2012 Section 508 Report to the President and Congress

The latest report was issued September 2012 – Section 508 Report to the President and Congress: Accessibility of Federal Electronic and Information Technology

The findings are based on the 2011 survey questions sent from the Attorney General/DOJ (Department of Justice) to the heads of all federal departments and agencies.  The report summarizes the findings and documents the statistical details gathered for all survey data.

DOJ Press Release

The DOJ press release about the report summarizes the findings even more concisely.

“While the survey results indicated that a good deal of the EIT used by federal agencies is accessible, the department believes that there are simple steps that, if taken, can increase the extent to which federal EIT is more usable by people with disabilities.  In this regard, many of the department’s recommendations are designed to improve an agency’s procedures and processes to better implement the requirements of Section 508.”

“Agencies reported facing challenges in ensuring accessibility of software or multimedia they develop, in providing training and support for all staff who need information about Section 508 compliance, and in identifying specific Section 508 requirements, as opposed to general standardized language, to be incorporated in their procurements.”

Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division is rather succinctly quoted in the press release summarizing the general need for Section 508 compliance.

“Technology and technological innovations can improve everyone’s lives.  However, if technology is not accessible, persons with disabilities can’t benefit from those improvements.  It is not terribly difficult or expensive to ensure that technology is accessible, but accessibility has often been an afterthought. Modifying existing technology to make it accessible is much more difficult and much more expensive than designing technology in an accessible manner in the first place.”

Solving the Problem with a Plan

Section 508 ChecklistExperience and statistics both show that documenting specific steps and procedures resolves many of the issues addressed in the DOJ’s recent report.

Developing environment/project specific documentation with SPECIFIC steps provides training, understanding, and consistent results.  The entire process should be documented with detailed instructions, illustrations, and examples for initial training and supplemental reference.

A checklist of all the procedural tasks should also be published so everyone involved performs the necessary tasks consistently.

The Step-By-Step Guide to Section 508 Compliant PDFs serves as base documentation for processing Word to PDF files for Section 508 compliance.

Buy the Book

Minor adaptations for specific agencies/documentation project needs can certainly be modified quickly and easily for a complete documentation set of instructions, procedures, and checklists.  For standard tasks and projects, the book alone may cover all training and procedural needs.

For additional assistance, the author also provides training, assistance, or custom documentation as needed.  Inquiries about services and availability can be submitted through the Contact page.


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What is Section 508 Compliance?

Section 508 is the general description we use to refer to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended 29 U.S.C. § 794(d).  …and yes, the actual document is just as dry as it sounds.  If you really want to read it, you can search for 29 U.S.C. § 794(d) online or see

In plain English, though, Section 508 basically says that

  1. Equal access to office systems (electronic and information technology) should be provided to Federal employees with disabilities
  2. Equal access to government information should be provided to those in the general public with disabilities.

There is, of course, an “undue burden” aspect, but that’s for the legal experts to examine.  For our purposes, Section 508 tells us that government materials (on websites, documentation, and other media) should be readily accessible to people with visual, auditory, or motor disabilities.