How do I Evaluate My Software Applications or Website for Accessibility?See Also: Tech Tools, EIT Professionals
To evaluate your website or software application, you inspect each feature and functionality of the technology, and compare it against a specific set of criteria listed in the Section 508 Standards, to measure or verify whether it conforms or passes that criterion.
Which category does my product belong in? First you must figure out which of the standards apply to your product. The Standards lists criteria specific to various types of technologies including:
- Software applications and operating systems
- Web-based intranet and internet information and systems
- Telecommunication products
- Video and multimedia products
- Self contained, closed products
- Desktop and portable computers
What Tools Can I Use to Test My Technology?There is no Section 508 Validation service on the Section508.gov website, nor does GSA promote any validation tool over another. There are many software tools on the market to inspect your software application or website for accessibility. Many resources are listed on this site including Tools and Resources/ Technology Tools and other websites. The most important thing to remember is that there is no single tool that can review your site, find all the errors or fix them for you. Some tools have been known to report false negatives as well as false positives. The most thorough Section 508 compliance test of a website or web application must be completed using both automated and manual checks.
So How do I test my site?The main concern is that all the information and data on the site and all the functionality is barrier-free and can be used by individuals with disabilities, that is, individuals who may need to use assistive technologies () to access the information and data on the site. We need to be sure that the content on the site is available to individuals who are blind, have low vision, who are deaf or hard of hearing, or who have mobility difficulties.
Assistive technologies may include screen readers, refreshable Braille, voice recognition, amplification, TTY/ TDD, screen magnification, high contrast color, and all functions are available by using only the keyboard. or not using the mouse. Although you can use automated tools to generate error reports, you must also manually review all of the results. Visual checks may include:
- Tab through the page and note if the page has a logical top-bottom, left-right flow. (in certain situations left-right, top-bottom may not be a desirable solution)
- Meaningful images must have appropriate alt text.
- Ensure that frames are navigable.
- View all source code (e.g., for tables, forms, scripts, objects, browser bugs if any).
Below are a short list of tools you can use to aid in the visual assessment process. A more detailed listing can be found in the Tech Tools and EIT Professional section of the site.
Software Testing Tools:
- Web Accessibility Toolbar for IE
- Web Accessibility Toolbar for Opera
- WAVE Toolbar
- IE Named Anchor Bookmarklet
- JAWS (Screen reader software)
- Functional Accessibility Evaluator
- A-Prompt (evaluation and repair tool)
Selected Federal Guidelines and ChecklistsBelow we provide a compilation of Section 508 standards, guidelines and checklists from government agencies such as DHS, SSA, IRS, and others to test your application. See Federal Agency Policy Guidance and Shared Practices for an extended list.
- DHS Section 508 Application Test Script: Testing Applications for Section 508 Software and Web Compliance
- Guidance on Creating 508 Compliant IT SolicitationsHHS http://www.hhs.gov/webrequestfaq/accesibility/
- IRS http://www.section508.gov/IRS/resources.html
- Social Security Administration’s Section 508 Accessibility of Electronic and Information Technology for People with Disabilities —Guide to Applying Section 508 Standards. http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/documents/ssa/SSAGuide_%20ApplyingSection508%20Standards.doc
- VA: Link to VA Handbook (http://www1.va.gov/vapubs/viewPublication.asp?Pub_ID=410&FType=2)