Why Does My University Need Section 508 Compliance?
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 11% of undergraduates report having a disability. And most colleges and universities are federally required to provide equivalent access to information for people with disabilities, which includes websites and online forms.
Formstack is the first third-party online form builder on the market to achieve Section 508 compliance.
This achievement makes Formstack a great solution for higher ed institutions that need to offer accessibility to students, faculty, and staff with visual or hearing impairments.
What Is Section 508 Compliance?
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires federal agencies to provide accessibility to electronic and information technology to people with disabilities. All institutions that receive federal funding are required to use Section 508 compliant technologies.
Did You Know?
If you are a part of a federal-funded institution, like a public university, or if your institution has voluntarily adopted Section 508 regulations, you must choose software products that are Section 508 compliant.
How Does Section 508 Compliance Affect Higher Ed?
Because most colleges and universities are required to be Section 508 compliant, information must be accessible to all people, regardless of disability. However, only 24% of institutions reported that they have websites that follow “established accessibility guidelines or recommendations for users with disabilities to a major extent,” according to a study done by the U.S. Department of Education. Even more, 11% reported that their websites didn’t follow accessibility guidelines at all. What is keeping higher ed institutions from making their websites more accessible? Money is partly to blame: 46% of higher ed institutions cited that costs associated with purchasing technology hindered them from making changes.
Formstack is an affordable and easy-to-use solution for creating accessible online forms. Our higher education solution gives administrators the ability to create thousands of branded, compliant forms.
How Can Higher Ed Use Section 508 Compliant Online Forms?
Online forms have uses in all departments across campus:
- Academic Departments—room reservations, departmental scholarship applications, course evaluations, and contact forms.
- Human Resources—job applications, new hire paperwork, performance management tools, and change-of-information forms.
- Financial Aid—scholarship applications, work/study job applications, and contact forms.
- Alumni Services—update contact information, signing up for events, and online giving.
- Admissions—requests for information, scheduling campus visits, scholarship.
When you build an online form, you will be prompted to include certain settings that comply with accessibility regulations. Additionally, the form builder will warn you if you attempt to include features that are not supported by assistive technology.
When your online forms are Section 508 compliant, people who use assistive technology can read, fill out, and submit them without requiring additional help.
This helps create a sustainable, paper-free environment within your office and ensures fast communication with ANY member of your university.