We've written about 508 compliance several times over the past five years, but for the uninitiated, here's a quick translation: In summer 1998, the U.S. government amended section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act to ensure that all federal electronic and information technology is accessible to employees and members of the public with disabilities.
Although section 508 only applies to federal agencies, most right-minded businesses and educational institutions around the world have elected to comply, partly because it means more traffic making sure that people with disabilities are not denied access and partly because, well, it's the right thing to do.
In the software business, there's a third reason you should pay attention: The U.S. Government is for the time being permitted to buy software that is not fully 508 compliant, but the vendor must provide a statement documenting how close you come. Obviously, full compliance is a competitive advantage.
Recently, a few sites have sprung up to help you with 508 compliance. Among the best: The folks at WebAIM took section 508's 16 rules and converted them into a nifty checklist matrix that shows you what you need to do to pass each standard.
To check your existing site, you might try A-Prompt, a web accessibility verifier program developed jointly by the University of Toronto's Adaptive Technology Resource Centre (ATRC) and the TRACE Center at the University of Wisconsin. It's available as a free 3.4MB download.
Or, if you don't want to download new software, here are two sites that let you check your compliance via remotely-hosted apps: The Cynthia Portal and Bobby. Both work, but in our experience Cynthia is more reliable and robust than Bobby.
Wm. Edward Vesely's book, "Code to Commerce," is a good intro to software marketing for beginners and non-marketing executives. Vesely is the founder of Excelsis Group, a marketing consulting firm, and it's obvious he knows his stuff.
However, in a tome as condensed as this it's just 124 pages there's not enough depth to build your own marketing organization, nor are you likely to set the industry on fire after reading it.
As we said, if you're new to high-tech marketing, Code to Commerce is a good start, and it's reasonably priced: just $14.95 at Amazon. And, the book's high-level discussion and multiple checklists could be useful for the software CEOs who want to understand what marketing is doing, but don't want to manage it themselves. In short: You won't find any ground-breaking insight here, but it's a useful tutorial for first-timers.