U.S. Department of Justice

Civil Rights Division

Disability Rights Section

P.O. Box 66738

Washington, DC 20035-6738


Software Accessibility Checklist 1



This Checklist should serve as a tool for evaluating the extent to which software applications are

accessible to most people with disabilities. This document is based on the U.S. Department of

Education's "Requirements for Accessible Software Design," including the technical guidance that

appears as Appendix A to the "Requirements." The "Requirements" document and the appendix

are available at:



More specific recommendations for how to design accessible software can be obtained from Joe

Tozzi or others on the Assistive Technology Team in the Department of Education's Office of the

Chief Information Officer Technology Center, (202) 708-7298 (voice), (202) 401-8510 (TTY),

Internet: Joe_Tozzi@ed.gov.


Although the Department of Education's guidelines may differ from the legally-enforceable

standards that the Access Board will promulgate by February 7, 2000, they are among the most

helpful references currently available to assist your agency in determining the extent to which your
software applications are accessible to and useable by persons with disabilities.


When evaluating your software applications, be sure to test them under the same circumstances

under which employees or members of the public with disabilities would be using them. For

instance, if you use off-the-shelf software on a network environment, test the software on the

same network, not in a stand-alone environment.

NOTE: In addition to filling out this "Software Accessibility Checklist," you must also test each


1.For persons with disabilities, additional copies of this document are available on

computer disk and in alternate formats including large print, Braille, and audio cassette, by calling

the U.S. Department of Justice at the following numbers:


Section 508 Coordinators: 1-202-305-8304 (voice)

1-202-353-8944 (TTY)


ADA Information Line: 1-800-514-0301 (voice)

1-800-514-0383 (TTY)


Alternate format copies for persons with disabilities may also be requested via e-mail to:



This document is available on the Section 508 Home Page of the Civil Rights Division, U.S.

Department of Justice



Software Accessibility Checklist

page 2 of 5


application by running it with assistive technologies commonly used by persons with disabilities,

including, at a minimum, screen readers, and, if possible, alternate input devices, screen

enlargement software, and voice recognition software and devices. Make a note of any problems

encountered during this exercise in the space provided on page 5.


Person filling out this Checklist:

Component/Agency: ____________________________________________________________

Name: ________________________________________________________________________

Title: _________________________________________________________________________

Telephone: ____________________________________________________________________

Fax number: ___________________________________________________________________

E-mail address: _________________________________________________________________


Software application under review:

Title/Version: __________________________________________________________________


Developer (give full name, no acronyms): ____________________________________________


Customization: choose the most appropriate description:

(a) commercial off-the-shelf software (used "as is")

(b) commercial software, but modified for agency use

(c) custom software developed under contract

(d) custom software developed in-house

Description: choose the most appropriate:

(a) word processor

(b) spreadsheet

(c) database

(d) groupware

(e) e-mail

(f) Internet browser

(g) other Internet access

(h) online database access

(i) other (describe): ____________________

Used by approximately ____ members of the public and _____ Federal employees on a weekly








Software Accessibility Checklist

page 3 of 5











Keyboard Access


1. Does the software provide keyboard equivalents for

all mouse actions, including buttons, scroll windows,

text entry fields, and pop-up windows?





Keyboard Access


2. Does the program provide clear and precise

instructions for use of all keyboard functions as part

of the user documentation?





Keyboard Access


3. Are instructions regarding keyboard use widely

available for all users in your component?





Keyboard Access


4. Does the software have a logical tabbing order

among fields, text boxes, and focal points?





Keyboard Access


5. When navigating screens and dialog boxes using the

keyboard, does the focus follow a logical tabbing






Keyboard Access


6. Is there a well-defined focal point that moves with

keyboard navigation? ( e.g., can you use the arrow

keys to navigate through a list followed by pressing

the ENTER key or space bar to select the desired






Keyboard Access


7. Are shortcut keys provided for all pull-down menus?





Keyboard Access


8. Does the software support existing accessibility

features built into the operating system ( e.g., sticky

keys, slow keys, repeat keys in Apple Macintosh OS

or Microsoft Windows 95)?








9. If timed responses are present, does the software

allow the user to modify the timing parameters of

any required timed responses?





Screen Elements



10. Are all descriptions or labels for fields positioned

immediately to the left or directly above the control,

and do they end in a colon, so that it is easy for

screen reading software to associate the labels with

the corresponding fields?





Screen Elements


11. Does every window, object, and control have a

clearly named label?





Any "no" answer may indicate a problem with accessibility.



Software Accessibility Checklist

page 4 of 5











Screen Elements


12. Does the software application use standard controls

rather than owner-drawn or custom controls?







13. Does the software have a user selectable option to

display text on icons, i.e., text only icons or bubble








14. Is the use of icons consistent throughout the








15. Are menus with text equivalents provided for all

icon functions or icon selections on menu, tool, and

format bars?







16. If there are audio alerts, are visual cues also


Note: Most operating systems handle this issue in

the client/server environment; the question is most

relevant in a dumb terminal environment .







17. Does the software support the "show sounds"

feature where it is built into the operating system?







18. Can the user disable or adjust sound volume?







19. If information is provided in an audio format, is it

also capable of being displayed by the user in a

visual format?







20. Is the software application free of patterned

backgrounds used behind text or important








21. Can a user override default fonts for printing and

text displays?







22. Can a user adjust or disable flashing, rotating, or

moving displays?







23. Does the software ensure that color-coding is never

used as the only means of conveying information or

indicating an action?







24. Does the application support user-defined color

settings system-wide?








Any "no" answer may indicate a problem with accessibility.





Software Accessibility Checklist

page 5 of 5














25. Is highlighting also viewable with inverted colors?







26. If the software application draws its own screen

elements, does it pick up the size settings that the

user has selected in the Control Panel?







27. Are all manuals and documentation provided in

electronic format as well as ASCII text files,

including text descriptions of any charts, graphs,

pictures, or graphics of any nature?







28. Can a user choose to have any report generated by

the software made available in a "print to ASCII

file" format?







29. Is special training provided for users with disabilities

that will enable them to become familiar with the

software and learn how to use it in conjunction with

assistive technology provided as an accommodation?








30. After you have evaluated this application using the Checklist, test it by running the

application with a sampling of the common assistive technologies used by persons with

disabilities (including, at a minimum, screen readers, and, if possible, alternate input

devices, screen enlargement software, and voice recognition software and devices).

Describe the accessibility successes and problems you encountered during these testing

exercises, as well as your plans for addressing any problems:















Any "no" answer may indicate a problem with accessibility.