Section 508 HHS Compliant PDF Checklist

Effective 1/18/2018

Section A: All PDFs

These checks should be performed on all PDFs no matter of what is present in the actual content:

IDRequirementsTraceability to 508Result
A1Is the PDF tagged?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1 
A2Is the Document Title filled out in the Document Properties?WCAG 2.0 Success criterion 2.4.2 
A3Is the correct language of the document set?WCAG 2.0 Success

criterion 3.1.1

A4Did the PDF fully pass the Adobe Accessibility Checker?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 4.1.1 
A5Is the document free from content that flashes more than 3 times per second?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 2.3.1. 
A6Are accurate bookmarks provided for documents greater than 9 pages?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 2.4.5. 
A7Is the document free from review-related content carried over from Office or other editing tools such as comments, track changes, embedded Speaker Notes?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1 
A8Is the order in the tag structure accurate and logical? Do the tags match the order they should be read in?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.2. 
A9Is all informational content contained in the tag structure?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1 
A10Are all non-standard tags appropriately mapped to standard Adobe tags?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 4.1.2 
A11Is all the text within the tags correctly formatted? (Free from line breaks and split words) Learn more about finding and fixing backend text errors.WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 4.1.1 
A12Do paragraph tags accurately represent visual paragraphs?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1 
A13Can text be resized and considered readable when magnified to 200%?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.4.4. 


Section B: PDFs containing Color

IDRequirementTraceability to 508Result
B1Is information conveyed by methods other than color alone?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.4.1. 
B2Does all text (with the exception of logos) have a contrast ratio of 4.5:1 or greater no matter the size?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.4.3. (Size stipulation not considered by HHS) 


Section C:  PDFs containing Links

IDRequirementTraceability to 508Result
C1Are links tagged correctly in the tag structure? (Contain visual link text and link OBJR within the Link tag)WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 
C2Are links distinguished by a method other than color?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.4.1, 
C3Can all link text be understood out of context? If not, does generic link have sufficient context?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 2.4.4, 


Section D:  PDFs containing Images

IDRequirementTraceability to 508Result
D1Are all images conveying information tagged as figures and included in the tag structure?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 
D2Do all images conveying information have alt text that provides the same level of understanding a visual user would gain?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.1.1. 
D3Are all decorative images tagged as artifact/background?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.1.1. 
D4Do complex images have an alternate accessible means of understanding?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.1.1. 
D5Is the document free from images of text? (Picture of an informational table, screenshot of text from another source, etc.)WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.4.5 
D6Are groups of related images tagged in a way assistive technology users would understand?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.1.1. 


Section E:  PDFs containing Tables

IDRequirementTraceability to 508Result
E1Does the document use table tags only for data tables?


WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 
E2Does the table structure in the tag tree match the visual table layout?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 
E3Are all header cells tagged with the TH tag? Are all data cells tagged with the TD tag?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 
E4Do all Header cells contain text?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 
E5Are merged cells correctly spanned with Colspan and/or Rowspan?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 
E6Do data tables with 1 set of both column and row headers appropriately use scope to associate to data cells?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 
E7Do data tables with more than 1 set of column and/or row headers appropriately use id/headers to associate to data cells?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 


Section F: PDFs containing Lists

IDRequirementTraceability to 508Result
F1Are all visual lists tagged correctly with the List, List Item (LI), and LBody tags?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 
F2Does the number of items in the tag structure match the number of items in the visual list?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 
F3Are nested lists appropriately nested in the tag structure?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 


Section G:  PDFs containing Headings

IDRequirementTraceability to 508Result
G1Is text intended to act as a visual heading tagged with the heading tags (H1 through H6)?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 
G2Do heading tags follow a logical hierarchical progression? (Do not skip heading levels)WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 
G3Are heading tags used only on text that defines a section of content?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 
G4Does the Heading text accurately describe the sectional content?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 2.4.6 


Section H:  PDFs containing Forms

IDRequirementTraceability to 508Result
H1Are all form fields correctly tagged?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 3.3.2 
H2Do all form fields contain understandable labels and tooltips?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 3.3.2 
H3Do tooltips contain all formatting requirements that will be automatically flagged as an error?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 3.3.2 
H4Are required fields programmatically set?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 3.3.1 
H5Is the tab order of the form fields logical?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.2. 


Section i:  PDFs containing other common elements

IDRequirementTraceability to 508Result
i1Is any nonstandard text (glyph) tagged in an accessible manner?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.1.1. 
i2Was OCR successfully performed on a scanned image document?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.4.5. 
i3Was the language appropriately set for all foreign words or phrases?WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 3.1.2 
i4Is the table of contents tagged with appropriate tags? (TOC, TOC Item (TOCI))WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 
i5Are all internal links/TOC entries functioning correctly (if linked)?


WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 2.4.5. 
i6Are citations and footnotes/endnotes tagged with appropriate tags? (Reference, Note)WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. 
Content created by Digital Communications Division (DCD)
Content last reviewed on February 15, 2018


The following checklist was used by the Department of Health and Human Services  ( until Jan 2018. Documents that passed all applicable requirements on this list were considered to be in compliance with Section 508, as interpreted by HHS. Last updated by HHS March 2013.


ID1.0.Master Requirements for all DocumentsYes (Pass)No (Fail)N/A
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 descriptive hyperlinks (i.e., avoid generic phrases like “Click here” and, instead, use phrases that let users know about the content of the linked page prior to selecting it)?
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?


ID2.0. General Layout and Formatting RequirementsYes (Pass)No (Fail)N/A
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

Yes (Pass)No (Fail)N/A
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?


ID4.0. Document Images RequirementYes (Pass)No (Fail)N/A
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)?


ID5.0. Lists and PDF TablesYes (Pass)No (Fail)N/A
5.1Have 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.


ID6.0. Form FieldsYes (Pass)No (Fail)N/A
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.