Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2020 - So you want to be a Trusted Tester?

There are so many methods for accessibility testing. How do you know what is most effective? What is the most reliable?

The Trusted Tester Section 508 Conformance Test Process for Web v5.0 is a rigorous, methodical method for testing web content using WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA standards. The Office of Accessible Systems and Technology (OAST) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers free training in the process and certifies testers. The course, instructor assistance through a Q&A Board and certification exam and certificate, is free.

The course has four pre-requisites to be eligible for the certification exam:

  1. Introduction to Section 508
  2. Section 508 Standards for Web (an overview of the WCAG 2.0 standards)
  3. Trusted Tester Training for Web (training in the Trusted Tester process)
  4. Practice Exam

Student course work is then reviewed to determine eligibility to take the Final Exam.

It takes some work and effort to get certified. This blog provides seven tips to help you “nail” the certification process.

  1. Print a copy of the test process (available in the Course Resources) and use it for every test you perform.
  2. The course material is text dense, so plan to dedicate time to really studying the content and process.
  3. You will be more successful if your goal is understanding the content and the nuances of applying the test process, not just trying to “pass” an exam. Plus, the course builds in some features to discourage guessing.
  4. It is very helpful to have a rudimentary understanding of HTML and ARIA code, but testing does not require you to be a programmer. The test process uses the ANDI (Accessible Name & Description Inspector) tool which provides results in an easy to understand format.

    Note: This tool, developed by the Social Security Administration, can be freely downloaded (
  5. When you don’t get the expected result for a test, review the lesson for that test and search the Q&A board by the test id to get advice. Existing answers on the Q&A board provide the fastest advice. If your question isn’t already answered, post a new one.
  6. Be sure to follow the instructions at the top of each answer sheet. The instructions vary! For example, if you are testing for lack of focus, you don't mark an item that doesn't receive focus, you mark what LAST received the EXPECTED focus.
  7. Don’t guess – it is important to apply the test process for every answer. It is considered a violation of the Student Code of Conduct to fabricate test results.

"What does it really mean to be a 508 SME/Tester? It means more than just a title. There is a high level of responsibility that comes with the title. 508 SME/Testers are on the frontlines of the process for the creation of accessible content. 508 SME/Testers must ensure every accessibility deficiency in a product of system reviewed is reported for correction. The reporting communication of 508 SME/Testers is ultimately a tool to influence that accessibility is achieved with future improvements." - Vince Prentice, Certified Trusted Tester and Section 508 SME


New Editions Consulting, working under contract for the DHS OAST and with the U.S. Access Board, developed the certification process for testing web content. The author, Ms. Davis, works, under contract, at the OAST office and is a Trusted Tester.