Mobile App Section 508 Testing: 4 Critical Considerations

  • 28.08.2023

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    The significance of mobile applications cannot be overstated. A staggering number of individuals rely on these apps for communication, productivity, and entertainment. There are around 4 billion people globally who are active mobile app users. This showcases the widespread influence of this technology. Indeed, the technological revolution has undeniably transformed the way we navigate the digital landscape; there is an often unaddressed challenge – the accessibility of these apps to everyone, including those with disabilities.

    There is a rush to innovate and captivate users. However, the sad reality is that the aspect of inclusivity has taken the backseat. This oversight resulted in leaving a significant portion of the population excluded. Approximately, 61 million adults in the United States live with a disability, which highlights the urgency of making technology accessible through Section 508 compliance testing.

    Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act mandates that all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government must be accessible to people with disabilities. Let’s explore the key considerations of mobile app testing to ensure compliance as well as an inclusive digital environment where technology thrives without barriers.

    Exploring Section 508 Accessibility Across Diverse Disabilities

    The global accessibility gap is vast and extends to mobile apps. According to accessibility surveys, around 98% of websites fail to meet accessibility standards. Moreover, theAmerican Institutes for Research reaffirmed that the aggregate disposable income of working-age people with disabilities in the U.S. is about $490 billion.

    Hence, overlooking accessibility means that businesses are missing out on a significant market opportunity. So, there is an urgent need for improvement.

    For instance, a visually impaired user relies on screen readers to access the mobile app. If your mobile app has complex or non-linear navigation and lacks proper labeling of buttons and images, then the user mightget frustrated. To improve user experience, your focus should be on making the mobile app accessible with accessible alternatives.

    Moreover, there is a wide range of disabilities. A mobile app must be developed by considering the aspects like vision, hearing, thinking, and physical abilities. Therefore, thorough mobile app testing against the accessibility standards is required.

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      What are the Section 508 accessibility requirements?

      Section 508 mandates that everyone, regardless of their disabilities, can access websites, software, mobile apps, electronic documents, and other Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products.

      Here are some of the key accessibility requirements outlined by Section 508:

      • Adherence to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA for web accessibility.
      • Non-text content like images and videos must have text alternatives to offer compatibility with screen readers.
      • Keyboard navigation must be supported for all functionality, catering to those who cannot use a mouse.
      • Multimedia content needs captions or transcripts for deaf or hard-of-hearing users
      • Text and images must maintain proper color contrast for readability.
      • Consistent navigation and design elements aid users in understanding the content’s structure
      • Time-based media must offer alternatives of transcripts or audio content
      • User interface components, like forms, should be user-friendly for a diverse range of disabilities.

      508 compliance checklist for mobile app testing

      Ensuring that your mobile app meets the standards of Section 508 accessibility by considering the below listed critical aspects of compliance testing.

      Visual inclusivity

      Captivating designs sometimes overlook the needs of visually impaired users. There should be proper descriptions in alt text so that the visual information is conveyed effectively. For instance, if an app features a “Submit” button, there should be a descriptive label like “Submit Form” to comply with accessibility guidelines and to enhance the user experience for those relying on screen readers.

      Sound accessibility

      Auditory elements may enhance user engagement but might contradict with the concept of inclusivity because the needs of users with hearing impairments are overlooked.

      To foster auditory excellence, include closed captions or transcripts for multimedia content, such as videos. This ensures that users who are deaf or hard of hearing can still access the information being conveyed.

      Easy navigation

      Often precise touch gestures and precise tapping are considered the norm but for users with motor impairments, the physical interactions required to navigate a mobile app can also be a barrier. While testing your mobile app for Section 508 compliance, your focus should be on creating an environment where users with varied motor abilities can navigate effortlessly.

      For instance, opt for adequately sized touch targets so that users with motor limitations can easily navigate the app.

      Simplifying complexity

      Section 508 compliance testing also includes accessibility standards for cognitive disability. If your app features complex jargon or overwhelming interfaces, it’s time to rethink how users with cognitive limitations process and retain information.

      Consideration of clear and straightforward language, concise instructions, and consistent navigation patterns aids in achieving compliance.

      How to confirm Section 508 accessibility for a mobile app?

      Similar to the accessibility testing for a 508 compliant website, there are two different approaches to confirm accessibility for a mobile app, i.e. automated accessibility testing and manual audits.

      Automated scans can only catch common issues and detect 30% of accessibility errors on average. They swiftly identify issues like missing alt text, form labeling, and color contrast discrepancies. However, these tools may miss crucialaspects where human judgment is required.

      On the other hand, manual audits provide a comprehensive evaluation based on diverse disabilities. Hiring accessibility audit specialists ensures real-world usability, identifying intricate issues that automated tools might overlook

      Indeed, for improved efficiency, automated scans are the best but to make an app genuinely inclusive, manual tests are beneficial. Ideally, you can go for a hybrid approach to align perfectly with Section 508 accessibility standards.


      There are economic, ethical, and legal imperatives to embracing accessibility in mobile app development. Therefore, no one must be left behind as we move forward with technological innovations in this digital era.

      Elevate your mobile app’s user experience with the top-tier accessibility testing services by ADACP. Our audit experts conduct a thorough evaluation of your product and provide remediation to ensure compliance with accessibility standards like Section 508 and ADA. Contact us now and make your mobile app accessible to everyone.