Welcome to Arkansas State University!

  • What is Section 508 & why is it important to me?

    To receive a general overview of Section 508 and VPATs please explore the Section 508 Awareness course on the GSA Section 508 website. The course length is about 30 minutes.

    If you are in an executive or administrative role please explore the following courses on the GSA Section 508 website:

  • How do I create accessible digital products?

    Digital Documents

    An example of a digital document is an Adobe PDF, HTML document, or a Microsoft Office file. All of these types of documents should be made accessible to users with visual impairments. The document should be well-structured and compatible with assistive technology.

    Plan & Organize

    It is central to plan out how your documents will look and be structured. Most software contains built-in tools to create headers, lists, checkboxes, tables, etc. that allow for accessibility. Remember that it is important to build accessibility features into the document from the beginning, as the process is easier overall. The following features should always be considered:

    1. Clear, descriptive language and links – Clear, jargon free language is easier to understand. Additionally, the more descriptive your links are the better. Avoid text that says “Click Here”, color-based descriptions (“Click the red button”), as well as other vague statements. A visually impaired user will likely be using a screen reader and could easily become confused.
    2. Appropriate headings – Heading 1 should be used as the document title, H2-6 should be used for the structure, never used for sizing the text.
    3. Alt tags for images – Alternative text is used as a description for an image and should always be included in a document or web page where images are part of the information. Certain images such as logos are cosmetic only and do not have to have an alt tag. A blank alt tag will allow the screen reader to skip over the image. If an image is missing or broken, a good alt text description will give the user context still.

    Creating Accessible Word Documents & PDFs

    In order to create an accessible PDF from an existing document, it is advised that you ensure that the source is accessible. Microsoft Word includes styles and other features that consider the use of assistive technology. It also has a built-in accessibility checker to quickly evaluate your document. To find the accessibility checker in Word go to File > Info > Check for Issues > Check Accessibility.

    If the source document is accessible, you may export or save it as a PDF by going to File > Export > Create PDF/XPS. Once the file name box appears for saving items select Options, and ensure that “Document structure tags for accessibility” is checked and select OK.

    For more tips on how to create accessible, digital products please see the following:

  • What is Open Source software and is it subject to Section 508 compliance?

    Open source software can be defined as software for which the source code is available for use, study, modification, management, enhancement or redistribution.

    Open Source software is a complex topic, but overall can be subject to an accessibility evaluation. Not all open source software is accessible from the start. However, since the source code can be edited, accessibility should be kept in mind when modifications take place.

    In the event an impaired individual is required to use the open source material with assistive technology and it is not deemed accessible enough, the material should be corrected. Keep in mind that adding accessibility to an already established software or web site can be difficult. It is always advised that accessibility be kept in mind from the beginning of the creation process.

    It is recommended that before an open source software is purchased, that the department agrees to make accommodations and/or re-program the software to make it accessible when needed. Additionally, a Technology Accessibility Overview Form and a VPAT Exemption Form should be completed for each open source software.

  • Micro-Purchases and Section 508

    If you are a Pcard holder or require micro-purchases please review the Micro-Purchases and Section 508 Requirements course on the GSA Section 508 website. The course is about 30 minutes.

  • Do Cameras Need a VPAT?

    A VPAT should always be obtained to the best of a requestor's ability if a camera has software or has an interface. There are technologies that cannot be made 100% accessible, but we must try our best to be compliant with Section 508. Camera accessibility is tricky and many manufacturers do not have VPATs readily available. If you wish to purchase a camera please be sure to contact your vendor to obtain a VPAT. If they cannot deliver one please consider other vendors who might. Canon is an excellent example of a camera manufacturer with VPATs for each available.