Section 508 HHS Compliant PDF Checklist

The following checklist is from the Department of Health and Human Services website ( Documents that pass all applicable requirements on this list are considered to be in compliance with Section 508, as interpreted by HHS. Updated 03/2103


1.0.Master Requirements for all Documents

1.1Does the document file name not contain spaces and/or special characters?
1.2Is the document file name concise, generally limited to 20-30 characters, and does it make the contents of the file clear?
1.3Have the Document Properties for Title, Author (an HHS OpDiv, StaffDiv, or Program Office—not an individual’s names), Subject (AKA Description), Keywords, and Language been filled out?
1.4Does the document utilize recommended fonts (i.e., Times New Roman, Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, or Calibri)?
1.5Have track changes been accepted or rejected and turned off?
1.6Have comments been removed and formatting marks been turned off?
1.7Does the document refrain from using flashing/flickering text and/or animated text?
1.8Do all URLs contain the correct hyperlink and display the fully qualified URL (i.e., and and are they keyboard accessible?
1.9Are all URLs linked to correct Web destinations?
1.10Are all internal links/TOC entries functioning correctly (if linked)?
1.11Are links (including e-mail addresses) keyboard accessible?
1.12Has a separate accessible version of the document been provided when there is no other way to make the content accessible?
1.13Is the color contrast ratio between foreground text and background color at least 4.5:1?
1.14Has the document been reviewed in Print Preview for a final visual check?


2.0. General Layout and Formatting Requirements

2.1Is the document free of scanned images of text?
2.2Have bookmarks been included in all PDFs that are more than 9 pages long? And, if bookmarks are present, are they logical?
2.3Are decorative images marked as background/artifact?
2.4Have all scanned signatures been removed from the PDF? (see
2.5If there is an automated accessibility checker in the program used to create the PDF, has that been run and does it pass?
2.6Is the document free of layout tables?
2.7Do images/graphics appear crisp and legible?
2.8If a table of contents (TOC) is present, are the page numbers correct, and, if linked, does the TOC function correctly?


3.0.Accessibility Tagging and Reading Order

3.1Have PDF tags been added to the document?
3.2Does the order of the PDF Tags match that of the order that the content should be read in?
3.3Has the PDF been formatted using Style elements (i.e., the title of the document as Heading 1, the first-order heading as Heading 2, etc.?)
3.4Are heading styles organized in a hierarchal and logical fashion, with consecutive headings (i.e., no missing heading levels).
3.5If nonstandard/custom tags are used, have they been mapped correctly in the Document Roles dialogue box and verified as working via assistive technology testing: (e.g., JAWS, Window Eyes, NVDA, and Dragon)?
3.6Have documents with multicolumn text, tables, or call-out boxes been checked for correct reading order?
3.7Are any footnotes or references tagged with standard Note and Reference tags and placed in the proper logical reading order?


4.0. Document Images Requirement

4.1Is the document free of background images or watermarks?
4.2Are multiple associated images on the same page (e.g., boxes in an organizational chart) grouped as one object?
4.3Have all multilayered objects been flattened into one image and does that image use one alternative text description for the image?
4.4Do all images, grouped images, and nontext elements that convey information have meaningful alternative-text descriptions?
4.5Do complex images (i.e., charts and graphs) have descriptive text near the image (perhaps as a caption)?


5.0. Lists and PDF Tables


Have lists been tagged completely, making use of all four of the following tags: L, LI, Lbl, and LBody tags?
5.2If the document has a tabular appearance, was that tabular structure made using the table option (as opposed to manual tabs and/or spaces)?
5.3Are blank cells avoided?
5.4Do all tables have a logical reading order from left to right, top to bottom?
5.5Do all data tables in the document have Row and/or Column headers?
5.6Do header rows repeat across pages if the table is multiple pages?
5.7Are all table cells, with the exception of those in the Header Rows or columns, designated as data cells?
5.8Are data cells set so they do not split across pages?
5.9If the table is a simple table, does it have scoping applied to the appropriate Row/Column Headers?
5.10If the table is a complex table, does it have id and header attributes to associate the data cells with the column/row headers?
5.11Are all tables described and labeled (where appropriate)? Note: In some cases naming/numbering of tables may not be appropriate. For example, a small data table in a presentation may not need a reference.


6.0. Form Fields

6.1Do all form fields have correct labels and markups:

  1. Form fields must have a visual text label next to the form tag and there must be a tool tip.
  2. Is the value attribute used on buttons?
  3. Is the label element not being used on hidden input fields (e.g., input type =”hidden”)?
6.2Are all form fields keyboard accessible?
6.3Are all multiple-choice answers keyboard accessible and grouped together as form-field sets?

  1. The value attribute needs to match the text next to the answer.
  2. Make sure the name attribute is the same.