GSA Government-wide Section 508 Accessibility Program

Accessibility Testing for Electronic Content

These testing resources can help you evaluate electronic content for conformance to the original and revised Section 508 standards. They were created through interagency collaborative efforts sponsored under the Accessibility Community of Practice (ACoP), a committee under the Federal Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council and the Federal Chief Acquisition Officer (CAO) Council. These resources are endorsed by the ACoP for use across the US Government for validating conformance to the Revised 508 Standards.

Web & Software

Interagency Trusted Tester Baseline
Trusted Tester Process
Trusted Tester Certification Program
Additional Guidance

Electronic Documents

Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF)
Microsoft Word
Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Powerpoint
Resources from Agencies

      Artifact Categories

Web & Software

Web designers, developers, and content managers play a key role in ensuring websites and digital tools are accessible, and conform to the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA.

Interagency Trusted Tester Baseline

The Interagency Trusted Tester Baseline provides standardized test scripts that can be used to create an accessibility test process. The current baseline addresses full conformance to the Original 508 Standards for web and software, and provides support for the Revised 508 Standards where overlaps occur.

An interagency working group is developing test scripts and tools to test for full conformance with the Revised 508 Standards, and they could use your help! If you’d like to participate, please contact Allen Hoffman at allen.hoffman@hq.dhs.gov.

Trusted Tester Process

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Trusted Tester Process is a testing approach for validating accessibility compliance and conformity. This process uses the Interagency Trusted Tester Baseline to provide a repeatable test process for determining software and website conformance to the Original 508 standards. The test process covers some, but not all, WCAG Level A and AA Success Criteria.

Work is currently underway to expand test coverage for WCAG Success Criteria.

Trusted Tester Certification Program

The DHS Interagency Trusted Tester Program (ITTP) offers training and a formal certification process for accessibility testing using the DHS Trusted Tester Process. Agencies that adopt the trusted tester baseline and test process only accept trusted test results from individuals who have been certified.

Additional Guidance

Electronic Documents

These resources, developed by the Accessible Electronic Documents Community of Practice (AED COP), validate legacy electronic documents against the original 508 standards (to determine if the Legacy Content Exception applies), and validate conformance to the majority of the WCAG Success Criteria for measuring conformance to the Revised 508 Standards. The AED COP is working to expand test coverage for WCAG Success Criteria.

Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF)

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Powerpoint

Resources from Agencies

Accessibility testing resources developed by Federal agencies.

Artifact Categories

This section explains the difference between the types of testing guidance documents developed by the AED COP and linked above.

  • Baseline: A set of 22 systematic repeatable test criteria that cover Revised 508 Standards and align with applicable WCAG 2.0 Level AA success criteria. Individual tests contain sufficient information and instruction to make a consistent and unambiguous measurement independent of other tests.  Each test case provides the following information:
    • Numbered Requirement: How the component(s) should function in order to meet the related standards.
    • Rationale: An explanation of the elements/components the requirement is addressing (technical aspect in layman’s terms), effects on accessibility, and consequences of incorrect implementation on accessibility (AT functionality), and the benefits of correct implementation.
    • Related Standards: Applicable 508 standards and alignment with relevant WCAG 2.0 success criteria. Note: A 508 standard or WCAG criteria may be addressed by multiple tests.
  • Authoring: Explains how to use the native application’s built-in tools to author accessible content that is in accordance with the Revised 508 standards. These documents do not contain best practices. Your agency should add additional guidance as needed, to meet your unique environment needs.
  • Detailed Checklist: Provides instruction on how to test and author documents for accessibility. All checkpoints correspond with the test cases found in the Baseline artifacts.
  • Printable Checklist: These documents function as reporting templates to capture test results related to Baseline test cases. Each document element that must be tested is accompanied with a list of questions. A tester has the ability to respond Yes, N/A or No to each question, and add comments to the test report. Add any additional test criteria that meets your agency’s unique environment needs.

The AED COP is currently developing updated checklists and testing instructions for the following authoring tools:

  • Microsoft Office 365 (Word, PowerPoint, Excel)
  • Microsoft Office 2013 (PowerPoint, Excel)

Note, the AED COP Committee includes representatives from the Departments of Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Federal Reserve Board, Internal Revenue Service, National Aeronautical Space Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, National Institute of Health, Social Security Administration, and the U.S. Access Board.

Please contact section.508@gsa.gov with feedback or questions.

Page Reviewed/Updated: March 2018