Overview of Section 508
In 1998 the US Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508, agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others.
Section 508 as it Applies to Checkbox Survey
It is possible to create Section 508 compliant surveys with Checkbox by following a few simple guidelines. Below are the specific requirements for 508 compliance web sites and web applications, along with an explanation of how Checkbox addresses each requirement.
- Text Equivalents: A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via “alt”, “longdesc”, or in element content). In Checkbox, “alt text” values can be associated with uploaded images and header images. There is not “alt text” value for the background images of style sheets, so background images should not be used in surveys that need to be 508 compliant. We also recommend excluding slider items with images and matrix items from surveys that need to be 508 compliant, in order to make them readable by screen readers.
- Multimedia Equivalents: Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation. Videos can be embedded in Checkbox surveys using the HTML display item. Because there is no way to synchronize equivalent text alternatives with the videos, embedded videos are not recommended for surveys that need to be 508 compliant.
- Web Page Color: Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup. Checkbox surveys can be associated with a style sheet or launched with no associated style sheet. All text element colors can be controlled to comply with color and contrast requirements of Section 508.
- Style Sheets: Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet. Checkbox surveys can be associated with a style sheet or launched with no associated style sheet. All text element colors can be controlled to comply with color and contrast requirements of Section 508.
- Server-side Image Maps: Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map. Image maps do not apply to images used in Checkbox surveys.
- Client-side Image Maps: Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape. Image maps do not apply to images used in Checkbox surveys.
- Data Tables: Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables. In Checkbox surveys, row and column headers are identified in matrix items and response tables. However, we recommend excluding matrix items from surveys that need to be 508 compliant because complex matrices can be difficult to read for screen readers.
- Data Tables with Multiple Headers: Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers. In Checkbox surveys, row and column headers are identified in matrix items and response tables. However, we recommend excluding matrix items from surveys that need to be 508 compliant because complex matrices can be difficult to read for screen readers.
- Frames: Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation. Checkbox surveys can be embedded into websites using iframes, but this use is not recommended for accessible surveys.
- Page Flicker: Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz. Checkbox survey items have all been tested and found to contain no blinking or flickering elements.
- Text-Only Pages: A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes. Text-only versions of Checkbox surveys can be easily created by omitting image and other display items, slider question items, and matrix question items. Text-only surveys should also use a style sheet that contains no image items, such as image headers and footers and background images.
- Scripting Elements: When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology. Checkbox only uses scripting to create or display page elements based on conditions or merged items that have been specified by the survey editor. Checkbox survey elements created by scripting are entirely optional and can be omitted in accessible surveys.
- Applets and Plug-Ins: When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with §1194.21(a) through (l). No applets or plug-ins are required to take Checkbox surveys.
- Electronic Form Elements: When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues. Checkbox does not contain any complex, multi-element form items, so each text item used in an online form has its own distinct label which can be read by screen readers. Further, Checkbox surveys can be easily designed to follow a single column format and all question items can be navigated using keyboard controls. We recommend keeping surveys and forms as simple as possible and limiting the use of multi-line text items in order to increase the ease with which the survey can be navigated using keyboard controls and other assistive technology.
- Repetitive Navigation Links: A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links. All navigation links associated with Checkbox surveys are entered manually by the survey editor during the survey creation process, so the survey editor has complete control over the number and nature of links contained in each survey.
- Timed Responses: When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required. The time it takes for a respondent to complete a Checkbox survey is recorded in the Checkbox database, but at this time there is no option to limit the time a respondent has to take a survey.