508 Myths & Facts

Myth: Section 508 Certification

Fact: There is no such thing as a “certificate” proving compliance with Section 508. Here, from the https://www.section508.gov/blog/common-misconception-section-508-certification:

“Section 508 certification doesn’t exist. Some people are claiming that they can provide vendors with a third party certification that their products are Section 508 compliant. Well that simply isn’t possible! No one, including the agency buying the product or service, can certify compliance or conformance, because there are no accepted tests. In the end the federal agency purchasing a product or service is responsible for determining if the deliverables meet their requirements..”


Myth: Section 508 is part of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.

FactSection 508 is not part of the ADA. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a different law. Section 508 is an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 of the original Rehabilitation Act laid some of the groundwork for the ADA in the areas of rehabilitation, training and employment of disabled people.


Myth:  I need to have all my electronic documents (PDF, websites, etc.) certified by a US government agency.

Fact:  ( http://section508.gov/index.cfm?fuseAction=techtools)  “There is no Section508 Validation service on the Section508.gov website, nor does GSA promote any validation tool over another. In addition there is no single tool that can review your site, find all the errors and fix them for you. Some tools have been known to report false negatives as well as false positives. The most thorough Section 508 compliance test of a website or web application must be completed using both automated and manual processes.


Myth: I can convert MS Word documents into compliant PDF files simply by selecting “Adobe PDF” as my printer.

Fact:  Word can create PDF files when using “Adobe PDF” as its printer but the PDF files it creates aren’t always 508 compliant. Adobe Acrobat Professional 7.0 or higher is necessary to create properly tagged PDF files..


Myth: I need to use Netcentric CommonLook to assure my documents are compliant.

Fact: ( http://www.hhs.gov/web/508/508myths.html): “A document is 508 compliant only when the Adobe Acrobat Full Check comes back showing no errors.”  No government agency requires or recommends NetCentric’s CommonLook plugin or any other 3rd party software.


Myth:  The file format we are using (Word, PDF, PowerPoint, Audio, Video, you-name-it) doesn’t have to be 508 compliant.

Fact: Since June 2001 the law has required all content created using federal money to be 508 compliant. This includes government hosted or contractor hosted websites and intranet sites. This also includes content hosted by third-party services like YouTube.


Myth: I can tag my PDF file to be 508 compliant by using the Advanced –> Accessibility –> Add Tags to Document function in Adobe Acrobat Professional.

Fact: This is only the first step to creating a 508 compliant PDF file. There is no single tool that can review your document, find all the errors and fix them for you. Some tools have been known to report false negatives as well as false positives. Remediation from a qualified Section 508 remediator using best practices and the latest technology is usually required


Myth: Converting my tables into PDF will make them 508 compliant.

Fact: Not true. Section 508(g) and 508(h) require you to use row and column headers in data tables and that all data tables are built in a logical way.


From HHS: http://www.hhs.gov/web/508/508myths.htm