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What is 508 Accessibility?

Section 508, an amendment to the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is a federal law mandating that all electronic and information technology used by the public be accessible to people with disabilities. Technology is deemed to be "accessible" if it can be used as effectively by people with disabilities as by those without.

If you have any questions about any of the information below, please contact our support at 803-771-0131, Ext. 1 or support@portal.sc.gov.

How to make content compliant

Below are the most common problems found in our MOSS sites' content and how to avoid/fix them.

Links

General Information

The text that displays on a page for a link should be descriptive of what the user will find on the page you are linking to.

BAD link examples:

  • For more information about our upcoming events, click here.
  • Download a copy of the budget here.
  • http://agency.sc.gov/Site/Pages/longURL.html

CORRECTED versions of the above bad examples:

  • View more information about our upcoming events.
  • Download a copy of the budget.
  • Department of This or That

Important: Do NOT add a value to the "Tooltip" field for a link that is the exact same as the link text that displays on the screen.

Internal Jump Links

Important: If you are only creating links that go to other pages or other sites (not to jump further down on the same page), do NOT add a value in the "Bookmark Name" field when inserting links.

If you ARE trying to create actual jump links within the page, be very careful about the value you add for the "Bookmark Name." ONLY add something to this field for the "anchor" link -- the spot you want to link to within the page. Do NOT use it for the link that will actually display on the page and be clicked to jump down the page.

For the anchor link, the "Bookmark Name" cannot have a space in it, and it must be unique from all others on the page.

See examples below:

Bookmark name should only be used for anchor links Bookmark names cannot have a space in them Bookmark names should be unique in the page.

Images

All images MUST have a value for their "alt" property in your content. To do this, always add a value in the "Alternate Text" field. See below:

Screenshot of Image Insert dialog box

Unique IDs and Title attributes

If you add content in any way that has an ID attribute, each ID must be unique within the page. Element title attributes follow the same rule.

Tables

When possible, refrain from using tables to layout your content unless the content is actual tabular-type data. However, any time you do use a table, you must be careful in how you specify dimensions for the table. See images below.

IF you must add a specified width for the table, you MUST change it to a percentage rather than the finite pixel measurement.

Only specify width with percentage

Do NOT set a specified height for tables. Only pixels work for heights, and using finite pixels for measurement is NOT 508 compliant.

Do not specify a height for images

Formatting Content

Font sizes

The standard style sheets include styles to format all standard page content, including fonts, text sizing, heading styles, link styles, and more.

Do not make changes using the "Font Size" button. Only use the "Paragraph Format" button.

You may also use bold and italicize as needed. All other styling will be done for you automatically so that your site content looks professional and consistent. If you find that you are often wanting a certain font size / color combination for emphasis or headings, please contact us so that we can change your site’s CSS.

Use only the Paragraph Format button and never the Font Size button

Text alignment

Do NOT use justified text alignment. This is not an option on the MOSS editing toolbar, so it can only be done by copying content from another program, such as Microsoft Word. Copying content in that way causes multiple other problems, so we recommend not doing so.

Remove Inline Styles

If you must copy content into the MOSS editor, please copy it first into Notepad before then copying it into the editor. After it is copied into the editor, then use the following steps to remove any lingering styles from the original program:

  • Click the "Select Formatting Element" dropdown on the editing toolbar and choose "All Content."

    Click the 'Select Formatting Element' dropdown

    Choose 'All Content'
  • Click the "Remove Inline Styles" Button

    The 'Remove Inline Styles' button
  • Use the "Apply Paragraph Format", "Bold", and "Italic" buttons to change the appearance of the content as necessary. However, remember that "less is more" where this aspect of content management goes.

    The correct formatting buttons to use

Heading Structure

Content should be structured carefully. Begin with either a Heading 1 or Heading 2 at the top of each page's content. The next heading should follow in order based on the first one so that none are skipped. There should not be a Heading 1, then a Heading 3, for example. There can be multiple of each heading type.

Do not skip heading levels Headings should create structure for the content

Documents

All of the above are requirements for all documents on the Web, including those created in programs such as Word as well as PDFs. Below is one additional requirement for documents and one requirement that is often missed for documents.

Do NOT scan documents as images and upload them as PDFs to your site. Screen readers cannot read images, therefore PDFs that are only scanned images are a violation of Section 508. They should be scanned as text or saved from a word processing program such as Microsoft Word. To test this, open the PDF and attempt to highlight the text. If any of the text cannot be highlighted, then that PDF is non-compliant.

Images in a document must have "Alt Text" just as in a Web page. There should be a way to do this in whatever program you create the document in. For example, in Microsoft Word, you will need to right-click on each image, select "Format Picture," go to the "Alt Text" tab, and enter a description for that image.