Language Scientific provides Section 508 compliant translations and localizations for all your digital content. We follow all Section 508 standards so that your localization project is Section 508 compliant, helping you reach your target audience in all languages and abilities.

On average, 13.2 million people in the US have at least one disability that Section 508 is meant to assist. Section 508 includes populations that speak other languages. Your localized digital content, website or mobile applications in other languages still must meet Section 508 compliance. Your digital content must be accessible to all users, including those of other languages.

While localizing your digital content we can also help you maintain Section 508 compliance to help you reach up to 20% more of your target audience that you otherwise may be missing.

To ensure that your digital content is Section 508 compliant, we follow all government Section 508 checklists as part of our translation and localization process.

While performing your localization project, we ensure all alt text is translated to provide accessible information for images and multimedia. We translate all headings and labels appropriately to describe the topic or purpose of the content and to maintain Section 508 compliance. We maintain consistent translations to comply with Section 508 mandates that all elements of the digital content be consistently identifiable.

While localizing your digital content, we will also improve your content’s accessibility and multilingual SEO and Search Rankings by maintaining your Section 508 compliance.

Language Scientific is one of the largest translation vendors for the US Government. Language Scientific holds a Government-wide contract for Technical and Medical Translation Services, Localization and Interpreting Services under the Federal Supply Schedule/Multiple Awards Schedule (FSS/MAS) from the General Services Administration (GSA).

We provide translation localization and interpreting services between English and over 215 foreign languages. We specialize in technical, engineering, and medical translation services for the federal government and public sector companies.

What Is Section 508?

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 §1194.22 requires all federal agencies to produce, procure and maintain accessible electronic information. Section 508 helps provide people with accessible web/digital content they can use. Section 508 applies to web applications, web pages and all attached files. This content can be on mobile devices, in digital documents or on web pages.

Since June 2001, all digital content produced with federal money has been required to be Section 508 compliant, including all content hosted on third-party services/sites. This applies to all digital content file types, including Word, .pdf, PowerPoint, Audio, Video, Multimedia, etc.

Section 508 Requirements

To be Section 508 compliant the following criteria must be met:

  • All non-text elements must have a text equivalent. For example, all graphics, multimedia, audio, etc. must also have text equivalents using “alt” tags, “longdesc” tags, in element content, transcripts, etc.
  • All active regions of a server-side image map must have redundant text links provided.
  • All multimedia presentations must have equivalent alternatives synchronized with the presentation
  • All information expressed with color must also be available without color.
  • All table headers (row and column) must be identified for data tables.
  • All documents must be readable without requiring a style sheet to be rendered.
  • Markup must be used to relate data cells with their header rows and columns.
  • If scripting language is required to display content or create interface elements then the script information must be identified with functional text so that it is readable by assistive technology.
  • If a webpage requires a plug-in or other application to run the content then a link to a compliant plug-in or app must be provided.
  • Pages must be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker greater than 2 Hz and less than 55 Hz.
  • Client-side rather than server-side image maps must be provided, except where regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape.
  • If the digital content cannot be made compliant with Section 508, a text-only page must be provided and must be updated whenever the original is updated.
  • Frames must be given title text that makes them easy to identify and navigate.
  • If there are electronic forms that must be completed online then people using assistive technology must also be able to access the information—including all directions and cues—and field elements and be able to functionally complete and submit the form.
  • Repetitive navigation links must have a way to allow users to skip them.
  • If timed responses are required, alerts must be given to the user along with ample time to specify that more time is needed.

Who Does Section 508 Apply To?

Section 508 applies to all federal agencies. It applies to all government- or contractor-hosted web or intranet sites, including all content hosted on third party sites (e.g. YouTube). Section 508 applies to all contracts awarded on or after June 25, 2001 and to all indefinite contracts with delivery/task orders issued on or after June 25, 2001.

Over 20% of the web audience has some disability and may require assistive technology. (As an aside, assistive technology includes all tools and technologies that help make digital content accessible. Assistive Technology can include screen readers, web applications, videos and .pdf files.)

Updating digital content to meet Section 508 compliance can help your organization reach the elderly and people with disabilities (including vision, hearing, motor and cognitive impairments).

According to statistics on the Department of Health and Human Services website:

  • 6.4 million people in the US have a visual disability
  • 10.5 million people in the US population have a hearing disability
  • 20.9 million people in the US population have an ambulatory disability
  • 14.8 million people in the US population have a cognitive disability

It has been reported that the number of lawsuits by disabled Americans looking for accessibility to digital content have gone up. Failing to comply with Section 508 can have some expensive repercussions if you lose a lawsuit for failing to make your digital content accessible.

It is important to note that simply stating that complying with Section 508 creates an undue burden is not sufficient to negate having to comply. In fact, the Office of Disability maintains that compliance costs must be above 5% of the total HHS discretionary budget to qualify as an undue burden and excuse non-compliance.

How Does Section 508 Affect Translated And Localized Digital Content?

Section 508 guidelines relate to translation because all websites that are localized must remain accessible. The disabled population that Section 508 applies to may also be limited English proficiency (LEP) and require both localization and accessibility.

When we translate or localize your digital content we pay specific attention to translating all alt tags and metadata so that digital readers will be able to decipher this content for disabled users.

It is important to note that as an added and unintended benefit, making your digital content accessible by using alt tags and text also positively impacts SEO and search engine rankings while also making your content perform better on devices of all sizes.

Localization And Section 508 Accessibility For Mobile Apps

One area of growth that Section 508 applies to is that of mobile apps and devices. As government agencies and organizations introduce more mobile applications to their user base, they must ensure that these are accessible to their intended audiences. These mobile apps are increasingly being regulated and their accessibility being litigated.

We follow all Section 508-recommended processes when localizing your mobile apps to help you maintain Section 508 compliance.

Section 508 Refresh

In 2013 and 2014, Section 508 is undergoing what is referred to as a Section 508 refresh. This refresh was intended to fill in the gaps created by the speed at which technology is changing to provide digital accessibility. The Section 508 refresh focuses on keyboard accessibility, form errors, live captions and link meaning.

In order to meet compliance with the new Section 508 changes, digital content must be tested to meet different levels:
A—Necessary for accessibility
AA—Acceptable for general accessibility
AAA—Achievable by content creators

These are increasingly complex from A to AAA with each level building on the previous level.
Under the new Section 508, level A requirements are now level AA. This refresh will mandate government that agencies follow WCAG 2.0 at the AA level.

What Is WCAG 2.0?

WCAG 2.0 refers to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Under WCAG 2.0, content must be directly accessible to as many people as possible and use different forms to match people’s sensory, physical and cognitive abilities. WCAG 2.0 has 12 guidelines and 4 major principles:

1. Perceivable
Users must be able to recognize and distinguish the information presented to them. To comply with this principle all images should have alt text that is detectable by screen readers. Further, all audio or multimedia must have visible text to allow people who cannot hear to be able to read it.
2. Operable
Users must be able to both navigate and function with the digital content. Users must be able to perform all required interactions. To comply, the digital content must be able to be navigated using just a keyboard or other assistive technology (and not rely solely on mouse clicks). Also, sufficient time must be allotted to complete all tasks and read all content.
3. Understandable
Users should be able to understand and utilize the user interface. All content must be understandable and predictable. In other words, all functions must be intuitive to and repeatable for users.
4. Robust
Digital content should be able to be usable by a host of different users, platforms and assistive technologies. As technology continues to advance, the digital content must remain accessible.

It is important to note that not all digital content that satisfies WCAG 2.0 is accessible by people with various disabilities. Some digital content that was considered “passing” under previous Section 508 standards will no longer be acceptable under the new guidelines.

Section 508 Strategic Plan

In July 2011 the Obama Administration introduced the Section 508 Strategic Plan. This plan was designed to increase transparency and improve access to government information and data for all people.

On January 24, 2013 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Obama Administration made this plan official through a published memorandum titled “Strategic Plan for Improving Management of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.” It made a clear commitment to increase transparency and improve access to government information and data for all people.

The OMB worked with two interagency leadership entities, the Chief Information Officers (CIO) and Chief Acquisitions Officers (CAO) Council and the General Services Administration (GSA) to update Section 508. Although the Office of Management and Budget has no authority to enforce Section 508 compliance, it does own the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the law.

Section 508 Strategic Plan Requirements

1. Publish An Accessibility Statement

Under Section 508, all federal agencies must include an accessibility statement on their websites (both public-facing and intranet sites). The accessibility statement must include contact information for the Section 508 program, the date when the accessibility statement was last updated and a method for users to give comments and feedback on the agency’s Section 508 program.

2. Designate A Section 508 Coordinator

Each government agency must assign a Section 508 coordinator and then send (or have sent) that individual’s name to the GSA by March 25, 2013. If the coordinator changes, the agency must notify the GSA within 90 days.

3. Perform Section 508 Compliance Program Assessments

By March 1, 2013 the Federal CIO Council was to have published a standard template for all government agencies to use to report Section 508 key compliance measures (both for website and for procurement processes). By June 29, 2013 (120 days after the template was to have been developed) all agencies must create a baseline assessment plan. Progress reporting is slated to start in the third quarter of fiscal 2014.

Timeline For Section 508 Compliance

By the end of 2013 or early 2014, requirements for Section 508 compliance will be updated. This will potentially impact all government agencies. Updates include increased oversight, metrics, resources, collaborating and reporting requirements along with best practices.

Baseline assessments of accessibility and Section 508 compliance must be complete by December 30, 2013 with results shared with the Federal CIO Council’s Assembly Committee. In Q3 of fiscal year 2014, all federal agencies must share their Section 508 compliance program’s progress with the OMB. Given the 6 months required by the FAR for the Section 508 refresh to go into effect, the earliest timeframe for implementation is Q1 2015.

Section 508 Testing

To maintain Section 508 compliance, digital content should be tested via the methods that people with various disabilities use to interact with that digital content. Also, disabled users should be included in test groups.

To make your Word documents Section 508-compliant you must do more than just print to Adobe .pdf. While this is a good start, you must be sure that you are using Adobe Acrobat Professional 7.0 or higher to ensure that your .pdf files are properly tagged.

In order to tag your .pdf files to make them Section 508-compliant, use the Advanced –> Accessibility –> Add Tags to Document function in Adobe Acrobat Professional 7.0 or higher. Next, perform a Section 508 check by using the Advanced –> Accessibility –> Full Check function. Once your Adobe Acrobat Full Check shows no errors, your .pdf file is Section 508 compliant.

Converting tables into .pdf files is not sufficient to make them Section 508 compliant. Tables must use row and column headers and be built in a logical way. Section 508 compliance can be checked by running your .pdf files with tables through Adobe Acrobat Professional 7.0 or higher.

Click here for a link to walk you step-by-step through making various files and file types Section 508 compliant.

Simplified Procurement Procedures For Translation And Interpreting Services Through The Federal Supply Schedule

Any agency or department of the Federal Government can order Language Scientific services from GSA-Advantage using simplified contracting procedures under the GSA Multiple Award Schedules and Federal Supply Schedules Program.

  • Schedule Title: Translation and Interpretation Services
  • Federal Supply Group: 738 II
  • SIN 382-1: Translation Services
  • SIN 382-2: Interpretation Services
  • Language Scientific’s contract number is GS-10F-0023K

Advantages Of Using A GSA-Approved Service Provider

  • All competition requirements have been met by GSA
  • Volume price discounts have been negotiated by GSA
  • Flexible purchasing options and blanket purchasing agreements save time and money
  • No order limitations
  • Schedule orders count toward small business goals

Ordering Procedures

  • Under the $2,500 micro-purchase threshold: Order from any schedule contractor
  • Over the $2,500 micro-purchase threshold: Compare 3 price lists from the GSA Advantage website and select the best value that meets your specific needs