Version 2.0

February 1, 2001


The Department of Education considers accessibility to information a priority for all employees and external customers, including individuals with disabilities. The Department has established these Requirements for Accessible Electronic and Information Technology (E&IT) Design in order to support its obligations, under Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 794 and 794d. This is to ensure the accessibility of its programs and activities to individuals with disabilities, specifically its obligation to acquire accessible electronic and information technology.

Therefore, when selecting computer hardware and software applications (and other E&IT) for use within the Department's office environment, the Department will evaluate the hardware and software to determine its accessibility by users with disabilities.

The purpose of this document is to convey the accessibility needs of the Department to the developers and suppliers of E&IT. It addresses the minimum accessibility requirements E&IT must meet in order to be used by all Department employees and customers. These requirements are offered to demonstrate the accessibility needs that must be considered when designing and developing E&IT for the Department of Education. They address proven techniques for the design of universally accessible E&IT that can be used by individuals with or without a disability.

These requirements incorporate the Access Board's final accessibility standards for electronic and information technology covered by section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.

While a product that meets these requirements ensures minimum accessibility for individuals with disabilities, the Department of Education encourages E&IT technology developers to be creative and maximize their design of E&IT to be universally accessible. More specific recommendations for how to design universally accessible software can be obtained from Links on our web site: U.S. Dept. of Education Assistive Technology Program, or you may contact the Assistive Technology Program by telephone at: (202)/260-5055.

The Chief Information Officer, after consulting with appropriate individual experts in the field of assistive technology, reserves the right to amend these requirements to ensure the accessibility of new and emerging technologies which may burgeon upon the fast-paced IT environment. Amendments to these requirements will in no way lessen the obligations for E&IT products to meet the minimum Section 508 requirements, but may place other access-related requirements on such E&IT as necessary to ensure full accessibility by the Department and its customers.

Specific Functional Requirements

Software applications and operating systems.

  1. When software is designed to run on a system that has a keyboard, product functions shall be executable from a keyboard where the function itself or the result of performing a function can be discerned textually.
  2. Applications shall not disrupt or disable activated features of other products that are identified as accessibility features, where those features are developed and documented according to industry standards. Applications also shall not disrupt or disable activated features of any operating system that are identified as accessibility features where the application programming interface for those accessibility features has been documented by the manufacturer of the operating system and is available to the product developer.
  3. A well-defined on-screen indication of the current focus shall be provided that moves among interactive interface elements as the input focus changes. The focus shall be programmatically exposed so that assistive technology can track focus and focus changes.
  4. Sufficient information about a user interface element including the identity, operation and state of the element shall be available to assistive technology. When an image represents a program element, the information conveyed by the image must also be available in text.
  5. When bitmap images are used to identify controls, status indicators, or other programmatic elements, the meaning assigned to those images shall be consistent throughout an application's performance.
  6. Textual information shall be provided through operating system functions for displaying text. The minimum information that shall be made available is text content, text input caret location, and text attributes.
  7. Applications shall not override user selected contrast and color selections and other individual display attributes.
  8. When animation is displayed, the information shall be displayable in at least one non- animated presentation mode at the option of the user.
  9. Color coding shall not be used as the only means of conveying information, indicating an action, prompting a response, or distinguishing a visual element.
  10. When a product permits a user to adjust color and contrast settings, a variety of color selections capable of producing a range of contrast levels shall be provided.
  11. Software shall not use flashing or blinking text, objects, or other elements having a flash or blink frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.
  12. When electronic forms are used, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues.

Web-based intranet and internet information and applications.

  1. A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via "alt", "longdesc", or in element content).
  2. Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation.
  3. Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup.
  4. Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet.
  5. Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map.
  6. Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape.
  7. Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables.
  8. Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers.
  9. Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation.
  10. Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.
  11. A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes.
  12. When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology.
  13. When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with the requirements for Software applications and operating systems listed above.
  14. When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues.
  15. A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.
  16. When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.

Telecommunications products.

  1. Telecommunications products or systems which provide a function allowing voice communication and which do not themselves provide a TTY functionality shall provide a standard non-acoustic connection point for TTYs. Microphones shall be capable of being turned on and off to allow the user to intermix speech with TTY use.
  2. Telecommunications products which include voice communication functionality shall support all commonly used cross-manufacturer non-proprietary standard TTY signal protocols.
  3. Voice mail, auto-attendant, and interactive voice response telecommunications systems shall be usable by TTY users with their TTYs.
  4. Voice mail, messaging, auto-attendant, and interactive voice response telecommunications systems that require a response from a user within a time interval, shall give an alert when the time interval is about to run out, and shall provide sufficient time for the user to indicate more time is required.
  5. Where provided, caller identification and similar telecommunications functions shall also be available for users of TTYs, and for users who cannot see displays.
  6. For transmitted voice signals, telecommunications products shall provide a gain adjustable up to a minimum of 20 dB. For incremental volume control, at least one intermediate step of 12 dB of gain shall be provided.
  7. If the telecommunications product allows a user to adjust the receive volume, a function shall be provided to automatically reset the volume to the default level after every use.
  8. Where a telecommunications product delivers output by an audio transducer which is normally held up to the ear, a means for effective magnetic wireless coupling to hearing technologies shall be provided.
  9. Interference to hearing technologies (including hearing aids, cochlear implants, and assistive listening devices) shall be reduced to the lowest possible level that allows a user of hearing technologies to utilize the telecommunications product.
  10. Products that transmit or conduct information or communication, shall pass through cross- manufacturer, non-proprietary, industry-standard codes, translation protocols, formats or other information necessary to provide the information or communication in a usable format. Technologies which use encoding, signal compression, format transformation, or similar techniques shall not remove information needed for access or shall restore it upon delivery.
  11. Products which have mechanically operated controls or keys, shall comply with the following:

    (1) Controls and keys shall be tactilely discernible without activating the controls or keys.

    (2) Controls and keys shall be operable with one hand and shall not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. The force required to activate controls and keys shall be 5 lbs. (22.2 N) maximum.

    (3) If key repeat is supported, the delay before repeat shall be adjustable to at least 2 seconds. Key repeat rate shall be adjustable to 2 seconds per character.

    (4) The status of all locking or toggle controls or keys shall be visually discernible, and discernible either through touch or sound.

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Last Modified: 07/10/2015