Differences between 504 and 508

508 504
Organizations must comply with section 508 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Many provisions of these statues overlap, but it is important to differentiate between the two statues so that individuals with disabilities are appropriately and adequately accommodated. 

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504

Declares civil rights for individuals with disabilities

  • Requires federal organizations provide people with disabilities an equitable opportunity to participate in programs and services
  • Addresses the needs for auxiliary aids and services (accommodations)
  • Organizations must provide accommodations to ensure equitable opportunities.
  • Organizations must give primary consideration to the accommodation request of the individual with a disability as long as it doesn’t cause a burden of an undue hardship within the organization or fundamentally alter a course.
  • Any federally funded program receiving federal funds is obligated to adhere to section 504

cane, wheelchair, sign language, hearing aide

Section 508

Sets requirements for accessible technology

Requires organizations provide access to and use of electronic information technology for all people with disabilities, including the public.

  • Addresses the technological infrastructure that allows online accessibility
  • Organization must ensure electronic information is accessible and compatible with auxiliary aides.
  • Requires all website content be accessible according to WCAG 2.0 Level A and Level AA.
  • US states require compliance with section 508 and WCAG 2.0 web accessibility guidelines


reader, large print, closed captioning, hearing

Intersectionality of 508 and 504

Section 508 and 504 may overlap within an organization in some instances. Organizations may be able to meet its Section 504 obligation to provide equitable access to programs and services to persons with disabilities by making electronic information accessible under Section 508. However, in other cases, in order to meet its Section 504 obligation, an organization may need to provide an appropriate auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability, regardless of whether information on its website meets accessibility requirements under Section 508.