1-2.2 Structure of the Law: Technical Standards and Functional Performance Criteria

Section 508 includes six technical standards with associated provisions and functional performance criteria.

These technical standards are defined in terms of classes of technology. These standards are software applications and operating systems; Web–based intranet and internet information and applications; telecommunications products; video and multimedia products; self–contained, closed products; and desktop and portable computers. They are referred to as “assistive technology” - any item or system - whether acquired, modified, or customized - used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of people with disabilities. These technical standards translate into day–to–day business functions, such as using the Web to look up postal rates, using a kiosk to purchase stamps, receiving messages with email, and using a computer to view a presentation.

Functional performance criteria define overarching performance measures that ensure interaction across all classes of technology. The functional performance criteria ensure that from the perspective of a person with a disability, all interactions are consistent and accessible, regardless of the class of technology.

Business functions often span multiple classes of technology. When you apply Section 508, you must consider all applicable technical standards and functional performance criteria. For example an e–learning system may include Internet–based technology and video and multimedia access from a desktop, with consistent functional performance.

When we adhere to both technical standards and functional performance criteria, people with functional limitations can use all Information Technology (IT) systems.

Exhibit 1–2.2

Access to Technology and Function

Technology and Function

Finally, when the technical standards and functional performance criteria can not be fully met, Section 508 provides for exceptions. In most cases, when an exception is taken, the law requires that we provide an alternate format or access method to information and data.