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Write a 5 page research paper that describes the impact to IT of the ADA section 508 law.  How has section 508 changed the way government agencies make information available? Can section 508 inform system design even for entities not required to follow it?

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The present report is based on human-computer interaction (HCI) in context to the influence of Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and Section 508 law on Information technology (IT). Both ADA and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act are intended to make sure that people have impartial access to goods, services, and information. ADA is a law that protects the civil rights of individuals and prohibits any kind of discrimination against individuals having disabilities (Plumer, Rowe, & Tusa, 2019). It is a broader law that covers aspects related to organizations, entities, private agencies, public agencies, and not-for-profit agencies. While Section 508 is a segment of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and specific to Information Communication Technology, whose purpose is to make the Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) available to people, particularly with disabilities or old age (Brown, & McKinney, 2015). The proliferation of the organization’s website accessibility under the ADA and Section 508 has made organizations sensitive towards potential claims related to information technology and internet usage for communicating with customers, suppliers, and online transactions (van Rooij, & Zirkle, 2016). The present report outlines the impact of ADA and Section 508 on Information Technology based organizations. Furthermore, the report has also explained the approach in which the law has changed government agencies to make information accessible. Apart from this, the impact of Section 508 on other entities which does not require to follow the law has also been mentioned. 

Impact on the information technology

Section 508 law needs information and communication technologies that are generated, maintained, procured and utilized by the federal agencies to be accessible for disabled individuals. The ultimate goal of this law is to eliminate barriers that come in information technology and thereby encourage the development of new technologies. After few years of its introduction, the government has to introduce new changes in the law according to the changes in technology over the past few decades. The revised Section 508 law does not directly employ to private entities or any recipient of federal funding, instead, the law has been imported into other federal rules. In short, the law requires federal agencies and members of public organizations to allow the availability of information and service for individuals with disabilities. For instance, the health institutions registered under the federal Medicare rules must need to make information accessible for enrollees. This rule for "accessibility" of procurement documents has been incorporated by the section 508 standards, and ask vendors to provide assurance of conformity (Vo, Hamel, Zhang, Brodsky, and Reid, 2017). Similarly, under federal law “California state law”, the local and state entities which receive funding from contractors and supplying electronic and communication technology are required to comply with section number 508 standards. 

In a similar manner, ADA also holds critical role in guaranteeinguniform employment chances, particularly for disabled people by making easy accessibility of ICT. However, ADA does not include any specific requirements and standards which are applicable to the accessibility of ICT. It only includes some general rules their guarantee disabled individuals to have the accessibility of all meaningful areas related to American civil and economic life. In situations related to employability, it is evident that electronic and information technologies make it easier to get the passage towards employment opportunities. The use of ADA creates a greater opportunity for people with disabilities as the recruitment and hiring process is mostly done web-based (Taylor, & Bicak, 2019). Therefore, the federal government should ensure that the legal protection designed for disabled individuals is clearly defined and it should not hinder the opportunities of other people. 

Changing government agencies approach in making information available under influence of Section 508

According to van Rooijet al (2016), government is the largest procurer of ICT related products and services. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of Federal employees to purchase mostly the Section 508 conformant ICT products and services, which fulfills the business requirements. It is evident that Section 508 is a segment of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which was introduced for easy accessibility of electronic and information technology. The 1986 form of Section 508 has created non-binding procedures for technology approachability within the government agencies. However, the 1998 version of the law has producedobligatory and enforceable standards that have been assimilated into the federal purchasing regulations. Federal agencies have to use these standards in all electronic and information acquisitions (Conway, Oppegaard, & Conway, 2016). Thus, with stable government-wide standards, it has become simpler for Nationalorganizations to meet the remaining obligations and make the information technology available to disabled people. It has also helped in promoting competition within the IT industry through clarifying the requirement of federal market accessibility in information, service or product which are intended for general use. The revised section 508 is designed in line with the ICT functionality which intends to use electronic content, software, hardware, and documentation services are accessible to disabled individuals, Section 508 also provides the facility to create complaint procedures as well as the reporting requirement. According to the information by Tayloret al (2019), it is inferred that Federal government agencies make electronic information accessible without delineating the scope of covered data and information. In turn, the range of document accessibility becomes inconsistent across these agencies. Section 508 has described the situation when the government agencies will apply the scope of data accessibility, which includes development, procurement, maintenance, and use (Ahmi, & Mohamad, 2016). 

Impact of Section 508 on government agencies and departments

According to the Section 508 law, government agencies need to ensure that electronic and information technology is available to individuals with disabilities unless it is an unnecessary burden on them. The disabled employees working in Federal agencies must have access to retrieve and use electronic information in a similar way as that of a non- disabled federal employee can do. In this context, the federal agencies need to comply with electronic information accessibility standards which are to be attained on or after 6 months since the date of issuing the concludingcriterions from the Access Board (Chiou, & Young, 2017). 

Section 508 is only applicable to government agencies who provide that data to communityby their workersover websites. These agencies are required to guarantee that their websites are accessible to all people through internet and intranet approach, involving people with disabilities. On the other hand, the law is not applicable to private sector websites, unless it is offered under agreement to a covered company. However, the private agencies can make their website or other electronic information accessible to the public, particularly the old aged and disabled people. Furthermore, these private agencies or entities can even contract with a consulting firm for collecting and analyzing the information available to the public on their website. In this context, private agencies can make their web pages, web applications, and files attached to the internet and intranet access to the public (Shaheen, & Lohnes Watulak, 2019). In addition to this, the agencies would also use various software and hardware in the form of assistive technology that can help disabled individuals to access electronic information easily, such as screen readers, speech recognition software, screen magnifiers, and reading assistant software. The adherence to Section 508 not only eliminates barriers to ICT but also provide equal opportunities to people with disabilities. It also helps in encouraging to develop new technologies that help in accomplishing the goal of Information accessibility. It provides the basic standards required for agencies to know how accessibility can be achieved. Apart from this, it also supports or assists the aging workforce to cope up with the advancing technology. When a private entity uses alternative mode of data accessibility which is similar to that of Section 508, then it is able to fulfill the requirements of disabled customers and employees. In this context, it is attracting a large audience who can use ICT and access electronic information. Agencies are motivated to introduce innovation and enhance their creative problem solving approach (Srilakshmi, & Nagamani, 2018). 


In summary, the present report is based on analyzing the impact of ADA and Section 508 on information technology. Most of the federal sites have availability barriers that create difficulty for individuals to use electronic information. Therefore, ADA and Section 508 ensures to protect the civil rights of individuals involved in any kind of interstate commerce and accessing Government ICT. Section 508 provides accessibility of accessing digitally published documents within government entities and agencies. It facilitates web accessibility especially for those with disabilities and old age. They can easily perceive, understand, and navigate information over the web. For this purpose, most of the agencies are using Assistive Technology, that can help people to easily access ICT. Some of the commonly used assistive technology are screen readers, speech input system, screen magnifiers, and alternative keyboards. Non-compliance with Section 508 can develop potential barriers for individuals with disabilities from being hired, lack of performance task efficiently, prevent from knowing about important services are benefits. Hence the cost and time involved for remediating or communicating the information related to ICT will be much greater than including the Section 508 conformance in the early stage of the development process. 

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