What is the relationship between Section 508 and the Clinger–Cohen Act?

Updated January 22nd, 2013

The Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, also known as the Information Technology Management Reform Act, established a definition of information technology that has subsequently been cited by numerous other federal laws. In particular, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 required that the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) establish "a definition of electronic and information technology that is consistent with the definition of information technology specified in section 5002(3) of the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996." The resultant Access Board definition was published in December 2000 in its Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards.

In the Section 508 standards, the Access Board provides separate definitions for information technology and electronic and information technology.

The definition for information technology is identical to that found in the Clinger-Cohen Act: "any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment, that is used in the automatic acquisition, storage, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, switching, interchange, transmission, or reception of data or information."

The definition for electronic and information technology includes information technology but additionally includes "any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment, that is used in the creation, conversion, or duplication of data or information."

By establishing this definition of electronic and information technology, the Access Board fulfilled its requirement of maintaining consistency with the Clinger-Cohen Act, while ensuring that technologies like software and copiers were covered under Section 508.