First Impressions of ICT Accessibility Standards and Guidelines

Terrill Thompson
Technology Accessibility Specialist
UW Information Technology
University of Washington

April 30, 2010

The U.S. Access Board released its Draft Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines in March 2010. These are intended to update the existing Section 508 Standards, as well as the guidelines for Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act. The Access Board is soliciting public comment on the new Standards and Guidelines (hereinafter referred to as "The Refresh") through June 21. Additional information, including a link for submitting public comments, is available on the Access Board's Section 508 Homepage.

This document contains my rough notes after an initial read of the 95-page draft. This doesn't reflect the opinions of The University of Washington, nor DO-IT or any of its funding sources. I'm not even sure if it will ultimately reflect my final opinions, but this represents my first reaction upon reading this document recently on a long flight. To summarize, these standards and guidelines are much more comprensive than the previous Section 508 standards, but it's extremely challenging to sift through. Therefore many of my observations focus more on organizational and linguistic issues than on technical substance. As a person who spends a lot of time working to persuade web and software developers to comply with standards and create accessible content and products, I think it's critical that these standards be understandable.

I welcome feedback, either on the UW AccessibleWeb discussion list, or on my blog at

Overall Structure


Comments on Specific Chapters and Sections