In the process of developing and testing your mobile application, you should be aware that some customers may not be able to use your app the same way your ordinary customers use it because of their physical, mental or visual limitations. For example, hearing impaired users will not be able to receive audible information and alerts. In order to make your mobile application accessible for all users without exception, you should concentrate your development and testing efforts on satisfaction of the Section 508 Standards.

508 compliance testing checklist for mobile apps

The terms “accessibility” and “508 compliance” are frequently used nowadays. Generally speaking, 508 compliance supposes that the technology is accessible to all users, regardless their disability status. It serves as a way of breaking down barriers and providing new opportunities for all Internet users.

The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a document which evaluates how accessible a particular product is according to the Section 508 Standards. This document can also be used as 508 compliance testing checklist for mobile apps or websites.

You can download the official VPAT forms (508 compliance testing checklist) in the Microsoft Word format here.

VPATs are used by buyers to determine how accessible a product is and where any potential deficiencies are. They are required by some buyers before a purchase is made. Federal agencies and institutional that must be 508 compliant include government agencies, federal-funded non-profit organizations, public schools and higher educational institutions.

The VPAT contains documentation on each of the following sections as laid out in Section 508. As the vendor, you only need to fill out sections that are appropriate to your product. Below you will find a full list of sections.

  • Section 1194.21 Software Applications and Operating Systems
  • Section 1194.22 Web-based Internet Information and Applications
  • Section 1194.23 Telecommunications Products
  • Section 1194.24 Video and Multi-media Products
  • Section 1194.25 Self-Contained, Closed Products
  • Section 1194.26 Desktop and Portable Computers
  • Section 1194.31 Functional Performance Criteria
  • Section 1194.41 Information, Documentation and Support

So what is tests checklist to be done for mobile apps 508 compliance?

See below a brief overview of the most important requirements you need to follow. You may find a full detailed list in the VPAT form here.

Technical requirements for 508 compliance

Your system should have a conformant technical implementation. To put it more simply, the core of your mobile application should satisfy some specific requirements.

Basic technical requirements may be as follows:

  • Avoid using server-side image maps
  • Avoid event handlers, triggering focus changes
  • Make sure that a user has access to simulated controls via keyboard
  • Make sure that interactive elements on the page have logical tab order
  • Ensure that the user can close simulated dialogs with the help of keyboard
  • Forced focus changes that are unknown to a user should be avoided
  • Make sure that a user can open menus from the keyboard
  • Don’t provide keyboard focus to inactive elements
  • Make sure that a user can get access to the calendar components via keyboard
  • Ensure that a customer can get access to the tree and outline node components with the help of keyboard
  • Make sure that a customer can use a keyboard in order to navigate through embedded content

Functional requirements for 508 compliance

They imply the basic requirements that answer the general question: can this mobile application be used by customers with disabilities.

Support requirements for 508 compliance

This kind of requirements implies defining the accessibility of the overall deployment context. In other words, you should make sure that documentation, training and support systems of your mobile application are accessible for the customers who have some kind of disability.

Understanding your customers’ needs is a key factor of success of any app project. In order to achieve this goal the developers and testers of mobile applications should read, research and learn from people with special needs. Consulting the disabled users is very important in the process of moving application through the development cycle.

Not sure if your app is in compliance with the Section 508 Standards? Request your free quote for testing here (make sure to specify ‘508 compliance testing’ in comments)!

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