United States Department of Veterans Affairs
Section 508 Support Office

Testing Mobile Apps for Section 508 Compliance

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Introduction to Testing Mobile Apps for Section 508 Compliance




Welcome to Module 1, Introduction to Testing Mobile Apps for Section 508 Compliance. This module provides an overview of the course. You will learn about how Section 508 requirements apply to mobile apps, what assistive technology (AT) is, and how it is used by people with disabilities. You will also learn about testing methods and tools you can use to verify that mobile apps comply with Section 508. An overview of the topics covered in other modules of this course is provided at the end of this module.

The concepts and terms you’ll learn in this module will help you get the most from the course. It’s recommended that you read it thoroughly before you go on to other modules.

Note: It is strongly recommended that you take the introductory Section 508 course entitled “Section 508: What is It and Why is It Important to You?” before beginning this course. It provides important information about Section 508 standards that you need to understand as you take this course.

Course Overview

Person holding a small mobile tablet device.

Anytime a government agency develops, purchases, uses, or maintains information and communication technology (ICT), it must make sure that it is accessible to people with disabilities as defined by federal standards. These standards are found in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Some standards detail what the content must include from a technical perspective. Others are functional, describing methods of access that must be available to people with specific types of disabilities.

This training covers the key elements of testing mobile apps for Section 508 compliance. You’ll learn what is needed to make sure provisions of Section 508 are met consistently. The testing information and suggestions are designed so that most types of access are taken into consideration—including different types of AT—and the results meet Section 508 requirements which benefit all users.

Select the following to read about accessibility on mobile devices and testing tools used in this course.

Accessibility on Mobile Devices

Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android support accessibility on their devices. Their accessibility apps and features support persons with a variety of disabilities. Currently, other mobile platforms do not have accessibility support that is sufficiently documented or tested, so they are not included in this course. However, be aware that as other mobile platforms begin to support accessibility and Section 508 requirements, concepts covered in this course will apply to those platforms as well. While evaluation techniques may differ, the underlying principles for accessibility are likely to apply to any accessibility framework. This course covers testing apps for Section 508 compliance on iOS 7.1 and Android 4.4 (Kitkat).

Testing Tools

Because there are currently no reliable tools for testing mobile apps after they are built and installed, this course concentrates on using each platform’s AT—specifically Apple’s VoiceOver and Google’s TalkBack screen readers—to test many aspects of Section 508 compliance. Other tools exist to test accessibility on iOS and Android, but they rely on having access to the source code of a given app, and are not used in this course.

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