United States Department of Veterans Affairs
VHA Office of Health Information

Training for Testing Software for 508 Compliance

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Testing for §1194.21 (b): Interoperability

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This module will focus on the interoperability and compatibility of applications with the accessibility features and technologies used by persons with disabilities. These features include those built-in to a computer's operating system (OS) and those provided by third-party assistive technology (AT) products.

The Section 508 requirement covering this is: §1194.21 (b) Applications shall not disrupt or disable activated features of other products that are identified as accessibility features, where those features are developed and documented according to industry standards. Applications also shall not disrupt or disable activated features of any operating system that are identified as accessibility features where the application programming interface for those accessibility features has been documented by the manufacturer of the operating system and is available to the product developer.

When considering accessibility and conformance to Section 508, it is important that features of the product are as accessible as they can be. One of the key factors in this is making sure that the system features work with accessibility features or products that are already working on the user's machine, including any assistive technologies and accessibility features of the operating system.

Users of assistive features and assistive technology can benefit from those features and their technology only if these features are not disabled or disrupted. When a feature is disrupted or disabled, the user may not be able to use the application at all. For example, if a software application disables an assistive technology that magnifies the screen, the user with low vision won't have the magnification needed to see the application.

Related Checkpoints

Remember, both testers and developers can use the checkpoints for this requirement to be sure the products they are working with will be accessible to users with disabilities, including those using assistive technology (AT) or OS-based accessibility settings.

Use the link above to look at the checkpoints now. You may wish to keep the window open as a reference to use as you complete this module.

Video Overview of this Requirement

To view an approximately two-minute video with additional information that may be helpful to testers and developers, select the video link below. The video will open in a new window; if you are using a screen reader to take this training, press Enter when you hear, "To start, press Play button."

Video in new window

There are two areas of particular importance for you to consider when testing software applications and operating systems for compliance with this requirement. They are:

  • The operating system's built-in accessibility features
  • AT compatibility and documented accessibility features

This information will also be valuable to developers. These are discussed in more detail below; select Next to continue.

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