/ What Are The Differences Between WCAG And Section 508?

What Are The Differences Between WCAG And Section 508?

The rise of online businesses has brought with it many advantages. However, some of the businesses don’t take people with disability into account during setup and after. This is where ADA comes in.

The Americans with Disability Act aims to protect people with disability by ensuring that businesses take measures to accommodate them. This can be done in different ways such as using braille, making the website more accessible and making it easier for those with wheelchairs to access onsite stores.

Reach out if you have any questions about ADA web compliance.

What Is WCAG?

This refers to website content accessibility guidelines that were set in order to make websites more accessible to people with disabilities. Over the years, WCAG has had different versions that keep changing techniques making them better. Other factors such as criteria, guidelines and principals have remained the same despite the changing versions. Some of the principles that websites have to follow include:

1. Understand-Ability

Websites are required to have information that all users can easily read and understand. They must also allow users to recommend corrections where necessary and the website must not be difficult to predict.

2. Robustness

All websites must be reliable and easily interpret-able to everyone including people with disability. They must also be compatible with a wide variety of technology including previous, current and future ones.

3. Operational

All websites should function as intended with all its aspects performing well. The design should be simple and users should be able to find what they need easily.

4. Simple Interface

Other than being easy to follow, the interface should be well structured with a clear layout that even novice and disabled users can use. Users should have the ability to distinguish all components of the interface making it easier for them to differentiate their uses.

All the WCAG principles incorporate several guidelines within them. This makes it possible for website owners to follow the guidelines by implementing the principles.

What Is Section 508?

This act was created for the purpose of making technology better and more available for people with disabilities. It is supposed to help eliminate technological barriers by helping with creation of new technologies that bridge the gap created by old technology.

This act targets federal institutions and therefore doesn’t apply to most websites unless they have associations with the said federal bodies. Section 508 has also undergone several amendments that have all contributed to its effectiveness. Some of 508 principles include:

  • Making all software accessible to all people including those with disabilities. This covers all applications and operating systems that should be accessible through websites.
  • All web content should be clearly understandable. Visual and audio content should be used to replace texts for people with visual and hearing disability. Other forms of technology that can make this easier such as braille should be applied to help users get the content.
  • When using telecommunication gadgets like cell phones, additional technology like hearing aids can be used.
  • All audio and visual content should have captions to aid with understand-ability.
  • Technological products that limit modifications for users should have additional features such as control structures to help.

What Are The Differences Between WCAG And Section 508 Guidelines?

Although both acts aim at helping people with disability, WCAG is more detailed than 508. The guidelines found in 508 are all available in WCAG, but some of the guidelines in WCAG are missing in 508. This means that as a website owner, you can comply with the WCAG guidelines and in the process cover section 508 guidelines.

Another difference between the two is the countries where they’re applicable. WCAG is available in other countries apart from the US while 508 is only applicable in USA. This means that those in other countries like Israel, UK and Canada can follow WCAG’s guidelines.

While WCAG is only used for websites and other software applications, 508 covers both of them together with telecommunications, desktop applications and other devices like photocopiers.


Both of the acts are appealing to different people with different businesses. One can therefore choose what they prefer.

However, 508 may be more preferable to those creating websites that; will be used by government employees, are funded by the government, have a contract with the government or have been given specific instructions by a government representative. For those creating websites that are intended for global use, WCAG seems to be the best option due to less geographical restrictions.

Due to the confusion between the two, there have been reports of the government allowing modifications of section 508 to make it more similar to WCAG. This is a move that some people believe will eliminate the differences between the two acts so that people will no longer have to choose.

Depending on the type of business you have and personal preference, you can choose either of the two.

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