Esri Legal

Some FAQs are reprinted from the United States Access Board.

Common Accessibility Questions

What is Section 508?

Section 508 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires that electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities. On August 7, 1998, the president of the United States signed into law the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which includes the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. Section 508 was originally added to the Rehabilitation Act in 1986; the 1998 amendments significantly expand and strengthen the technology access requirements in Section 508. For more information, visit

When did it come into effect?

Section 508 came into effect on June 25, 2001

To whom does Section 508 apply?

Section 508 applies to federal departments and agencies. It does not regulate the private sector and does not apply to recipients of federal funds.

Section 508 applies to contracts awarded on or after the effective date, June 25, 2001. For indefinite contracts, it is applicable to delivery orders or task orders issued on or after the effective date.

What does Section 508 require of federal agencies and departments?

Section 508 requires that when federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, they must procure technology that is accessible to people with disabilities, unless it would pose an undue burden on the federal agency to do so.

What does "electronic and information technology" refer to?

For the purpose of Section 508, electronic and information technology refers to

  • Software applications and operating systems
  • Web-based intranet and Internet information and applications
  • Telecommunications products
  • Video and multimedia products
  • Self-contained, closed products (e.g., kiosks)
  • Desktop and portable computers

What parts of Section 508 are pertinent to Esri products?

Esri sells software applications and Web-based information and applications to the federal government. The applicable Section 508 technical standards can be found in the VPAT for each Esri product.

Why aren't older versions of Esri software listed in the software compliance section?

Section 508 applies to contracts awarded on or after June 25, 2001. The software compliance section only lists the current versions of our products that would be delivered on or after that date.

What is Esri doing to support software accessibility?

In the United States, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794d) requires the federal government to procure technology products are accessible to people with disabilities. Under Section 508, federal entities must procure the most accessible technology product that does not impose an undue burden on the government. Many state and local governments, as well as private companies, are also adopting Section 508 standards when purchasing technology.

The US Access Board published a rule on requirements for information and communication technology covered by Section 508. These requirements include incorporating the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 by reference and applying Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements to websites, as well as to non-web electronic documents and software. Globally, some countries including Canada, Israel, and Australia are starting to implement WCAG 2.0 as an accessibility standard.

Esri is committed to building accessible software. Accessibility is not a fixed requirement and this is a continuous and ongoing effort. With each release of ArcGIS, we improve in the area of accessibility. We recognize the need for accessibility across the entire ArcGIS platform – from Mobile to Desktop to Server to online applications. Esri publishes information regarding product accessibility on disclosure forms called Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates, or VPATs. The VPATs are designed to assist customers in evaluating compliance with Section 508 criteria when selecting the product to best meet their needs.

Customers can find more information about Esri's commitment to Section 508 at Customers are also encouraged to engage with Esri on the topic of accessibility. Comments, inquiries, or suggestions can be directed to