Best Practices

Here’s a great chart outlining how best practices compare with Section 508 requirements, from Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services (CITES) and Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES), University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign:

Another prime resource is here at the website.

Comparison of Section 508 and Best Practices Requirements



Section 508

Requirement Comparison


Support Web Standards
  • none
  • Different: Section 508 does not have any requirements for supporting web standards. In general, valid HTML and CSS should be used to support interoperability and the separation of content from rendering styles. Other web standards like SVG and MathML should be used wherever possible


Liquid Design for Content Reflow
  • none
  • Different: Section 508 does not have any requirements for content reflow. Use CSSfloat and clear properties for creating columns
  • 1194.22(d)
  • Same: Section 508 requires documents to be readable without style sheets
  • Same: If HTML table markup is used for graphical layout then the table markup should considered part of the style of the document for the purpose of Section 508 conformance
  • Different: CSS should be used for layout and stylistic graphics
  • 1194.22(c)
  • Same: Section 508 requires that color not be the only way to convey information. Therefore, if author color styling is ignored or changed to a different color the page should still convey the same information
  • none
  • Different: Section 508 has no requirements for fonts, but CSS should be used for specifying font size, font family and other font variations like underlining, bolding, italics and capitalization. CSS has many font styling capabilities that are supported on major browsers. Images in general should not be used to stylize text except in limited situations like logos or icons used to brand a website or indicate the purpose of a control

Navigation and Orientation

Unique Titles
  • none
  • Different: Section 508 does not have a requirement to uniquely title web resources. The Best Practices document requires that pages have unique titles using the titleand h1 elements
  • 1194.22(o)
  • Different: Section 508 has only a minimal “skip navigation” requirement. The Best Practices requirement that major topics use HTML heading (h1-h6) and that navigation bars be indicated in HTML markup
Menus and Navigation Bars
  • 1194.22(o)
  • Different: Section 508 has only a minimal “skip navigation” requirement but does not require using markup to indicate navigation bars. The best practices requirements that navigation bars be identified through the use of unordered lists (ul element) and the title attribute to give the navigation bar a human readable label that indicates the purpose of the navigation bar
  • 1194.22(n)
  • Same: Section 508 requires that form controls use the label and fieldset element to indicate relationships between form controls and their text labels
  • none
Tabular Data Tables
  • 1194.22(g)
  • 1194.22(h)
  • Same: Section 508 requires:
    1. The caption element must be used to give the table a title
    2. The th element must be used to indicate which table cells are used as headers with the id attribute used to uniquely identify each header cell
    3. The td element must be used with the headers attribute to indicate the table header cells in tables where more than just the first column or first row are needed to indicate the header information
    4. The summary attribute can be used to provide a short text summary of what the author wanted the user to understand from looking at the table data
    5. The scope attribute is useful to define whether the first cell in a data table should be considered a header for the first row or first column of a web resource
  • none
  • Different: Lists of information or links should be coded using unordered (ul), ordered (ol) or definition list (dl)
  • 1194.22(f)
  • Same: Section 508’s only requirement for links is that server side image maps must have redundant text links. However, this technique for image maps is rarely used now
  • Different: Any image map (server or client side) needs redundant text links since none of the mainstream browsers support the rendering of alt for area elements
  • Different: Text associated with a link needs to indicate the target of the link
  • none
  • Different: Limited numbers of accesskey‘s can be useful for static web resources to help people navigate to search boxes, the main navigation bar and main content
  • 1194.22(i)
  • Same: Frames are required to be titled with text that describes the content of the frame


  • 1194.22(l)
  • Same: Section 508 requires text interface elements and operation instructions that are compatible with assistive technologies and that can be restyled to suit user preferences
  • 1194.21 (a)
  • Same: Any interactive web resource must provide keyboard support. This includes device independence for onmouse events, typically with the onfocus and onblur events that can be triggered with the keyboard
Objects and Applets
  • 1194.22(m)
  • Same: Since embedded objects and applets are not currently accessible, Section 508 requires that an alternative that complies with 1194.21(a)-through-(l) be available to the user.
Animations (Flicker)
  • 1194.22(j)
  • Same: Section 508 resources must be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz
Timed Responses
  • 1194.22(p)
  • Same: Section 508 requires that resources using a required timed response give the user an alert and sufficient time to indicate that more time is required
  • Different: In systems that require user authentication, users can configure the system to provide them with the extra time they need to respond to timed operations

Text Descriptions

Text Equivalents for Images, Pictures, Charts and Diagrams
  • 1194.22(a)
  • Same: Section 508 and the Best Practices both require text descriptions for images
  • Different: If an image is used to stylize text, it should be replaced with text markup and CSS
  • Different: If an image is used for positioning or styling, it should be replaced by CSS positioning and styling
Text Equivalents for Audio
  • 1194.22(a)
  • 1194.22(b)
  • Same: Both require text captions for audio