508 Compliance Testing for Web Applications

Feb 27, 2020 1:35:21 AM | by Kajal Jain


What is 508 Compliance?

‘Americans with Disabilities Act’ was passed in 1990 to establish accommodations for individuals with disabilities in the physical world. Since, the upsurge in the popularity of the internet necessitated similar accommodations for disabled individuals and their ability to access and consume digital content. While according to the Rehabilitation Act 1973, federal law prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities in programs and services, Section 508 was added later in 1998 and subsequently refreshed in 2018 to ensure that access to technology for the disabled was included.

Section 508 compliance criteria use the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to access web apps. According to WCAG, the content on the web application must be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust to suit the needs of the disabled users. Section 508 compliance testing for web applications allows businesses to test their digital content's compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). In the end, the goal remains to check how easily people can use a web app. Moreover, section 508 compliance testing for web apps can improve future designs and implementations.

While complying with a standard set of 508c compliance rules is one thing, maximizing the accessibility of a web app is another. A fully 508 compliant web app addresses and balance between the needs of people with all disabilities. Such web apps match the needs of differently-abled users to optimal techniques and use clear language to express needs or techniques.

508 Compliance Testing

Why is 508 Compliance Testing an Integral Part of Every Web Application Development Process?

A significant chunk of the population indeed suffers from different disabilities. In addition, what's more pressing is that 50% of the people above the age of 65 have reduced capabilities. Running 508 compliance testing on a web app allows businesses to cater to the market for disabled people. Companies can make their web app differently able-friendly by resolving accessibility issues by making 508c testing an integral part of the software testing life cycle.

Moreover, there is a surge in the trend of legalizations that require IT products to be accessible by disabled people. Thus, 508c testing or accessibility testing is essential to ensure legal compliance. Building web apps which support the disabled is a sure shot way to avoid potential lawsuits.

Moreover, having a 508 compliant web app can significantly increase the number of people you can reach. Compliance makes it easier to sell web apps. In the end, the most important reason to test a web app for 508 compliance is that it would be the right thing to do. As assistive technology helps people with disabilities in an increasingly digital world, creators need to ensure that they meet WCAG standards. Conclusively, accessibility and enjoyable user experience go hand-in-hand in perfect harmony. 508 compliance testing helps businesses optimize the experience to include as many people as possible, and it benefits every user and not just the disabled.

Types of Web Application Security Testing

  • A real comprehensive web app 508c testing plan must include both automated and manual testing modules. While Automated 508c tests can process large quantities of content quickly, they cannot catch everything that subjective judgments of human testers can. The best kind of 508c testing environment often includes testers with disabilities.

Web Application 508 Compliance Testing Best Practices that ASTAQC Team Swears By

More and more businesses intend to conduct accessibility evaluations today. 508 compliance testing for people with disabilities allows web apps to be more accessible to all. Here are some web application 508 compliance testing best practices that ASTAQC team swears by:

Accommodate for Different Types of Disabilities in the Testing Effort

All businesses need to brainstorm what disabilities to include in their 508 compliance testing effort. We know that the internet of things is inherently visual. That is why it is best to have some participants with visual disabilities like blindness, low vision, colour blindness, etc.

Further web apps necessitate user interaction like liking, scrolling, and filling in forms. Thus, web apps QA tester must include some people who have difficulty with excellent motor control and those who cannot use a mouse or other input device. This allows the development team to learn how they use their web app. Businesses also need to keep in mind the needs of hearing and cognitive impaired people.

Remote Moderated Accessibility Testing to Achieve Cost Efficiency

Conduct in-person moderated testing with people with disabilities for web apps can be a costly exercise to carry out. Moreover, it brings along several logistical challenges as navigating the physical world can be difficult for participants with disabilities. Business must allow participants to use their own devices and conduct remote moderated 1:1 sessions. Remote moderated accessibility testing for web apps unearths additional insights which could be an added benefit for the business process.

Emphasize on Color and Contrast

Visual details must identify active user interface controls and their states. Everything including buttons, form fields, focus and selected state indicators need to have a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 with adjacent colours. This ensures that even users with low vision can identify features of controls and states (non-text) in a distinguishable manner. Weak contrast controls are difficult to perceive, especially by people with a visual impairment. Further, to identify the controls, there is a need for sufficient contrast with the adjacent background. Also, the color should not be the sole method of indicating a link within the non-linked text. Even error messages should be indicated by using more than just color.

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Web Application 508 Compliance Testing Tools that ASTAQC Team Swears By

Businesses that intend to make their web apps more acceptable and user-friendly need to ensure that it is easily accessible. We use various tools to check the accessibility of a web app. Here are some web application 508 compliance testing tools that ASTAQC team swears by:

  • 508checker.com
  • JAWS Screen reader
  • NVDA
  • WAT Toolbar
  • ChromeVox
  • A-Tester by Evaluera Ltd
  • A11Y Color Contrast Accessibility Validator by A11Y Company
  • A11Y Compliance Platform by Bureau of Internet Accessibility
  • A11y-checker by Muhannad Abdelrazek
  • A11ygato by Orange
  • A11yTools Extension for Safari macOS by Paul J. Adam
  • AATT (Automated Accessibility Testing Tool) by PayPal


"The principle objective of software testing is to give confidence in the Software."- Anonymous


Why ASTAQC for 508 Compliance Testing of Web Applications?

Clearly, Technology needs to adapt as our understanding of human needs evolves. Accessibility is an evolving concept which renders current standards outdated regularly. Although, sometimes web app businesses are so focused on simplicity that catering to the needs of disabled people poses a unique challenge for them. Since, different web apps serve different purposes and come with a unique set of functionalities. Very often providing to the disabled means additional experience gaps between users and evaluators. Thus, this makes it essential that 508c testing of web apps is conducted under professional supervision. 508c testing evaluates what it is like to experience the web with different senses and cognitive abilities. Moreover, it checks various unusual configuration options and specialist software that enable web access to people with particular disabilities.

We ensure that software testing for web apps includes automated testing, manual testing, and functional testing by people with disabilities during the audit. We prepare detailed reports discussing the overall level of Section 508 compliance and a list of accessibility issues that need remediation.

Tags: 508 Compliance Testing

Kajal Jain

Written by Kajal Jain

Kajal is a software testing enthusiast and an avid writer, She enjoys talking about latest trends in testing world.

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