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Accessible (508) PDF Forms


[x] Standard 


[x] Accessibility/508


HHS forms must be Section 508 compliant, ensuring that:

  • Assistive technology devices will read the form in same order the persons use to fill it in.
  • All form inputs/fields include meaningful ToolTip/Screen Reader Text that explains what information should be entered into the field.
  • The form is navigable via the keyboard with or without assistive technology.
  • The form (or page listing forms) links to a page providing information for persons with disabilities on how to navigate our forms. Please see Sample Text for Accessible Form Page.
  • Provide a link to the Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Include the language the form is written in as part of the file name and the link. Example:
    • The link for a Spanish-language form would be: XXX- Espa├▒ol (PDF - 10KB)
    • The file would be named: XXX- Espanol.PDF


When requesting or ordering development of a form:

  • Provide an draft version of the form to be developed
  • Provide a list of the Tab order of all form inputs/fields as they would be entered into the form
  • Provide meaningful text for ToolTip/Screen Reader Text that will be coded into all inputs/fields on the form

When accepting delivery of (contracted) or before posting (in-house developed) forms:

  • Test the form using JAWS and Dragon Naturally Speaking to ensure that:
    • The software reads the form in the order in which persons will fill in the form.
    • The ToolTip/Screen Reader Text provided to the developer included in the form.
    • The developer has specified what software was used to create the form.
    • The PDF file is not password protected.

Sample Text for Accessible Form Page


HHS is committed to making HHS forms fully accessible and Section 508 compliant. These "talking forms" work with Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) compliant screen readers as well as Dragon Naturally Speaking Voice Recognition Software. We are using the Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF) as a means of distributing government forms.

Software Requirements

HHS has created short text descriptions for field-fillable forms in PDF format. HHS has tested the forms with the JAWS screen reader. These "talking forms" are also compatible with Dragon Naturally Speaking Voice Recognition Software. Users of "talking forms" need to have screen reading software and Adobe Acrobat (Reader) 6.0 or higher. You can get Adobe Acrobat Reader for free from Adobe Software.

You will be able to save a form and print a filled-in form at a later date.

If you are a JAWS user, please note that we had problems with JAWS versions preceding 4.01 and recommend you upgrade to JAWS 4.01 before trying to use these forms.

How To Navigate The Form(s)

To access the forms please follow the steps below if you are using JAWS:

Open Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 or higher

  1. Highlight the file name and press enter to open the file.
  2. Once the file has opened, press ENTER (or other key command for your synthesizer) to invoke "forms mode". Forms mode allows a user to edit the form while tabbing through the fields.
  3. Press TAB to move through the form.
  4. When the form has been filled in, the user may save the file using the Windows SAVE command.

Note: When reviewing a form for the first time in standard reading mode, you may hear what sounds like duplication of information. This is not a glitch; the synthesizer is reading the text on the form and also reading the "short descriptions" coded into the fields. The short descriptions for the fields often mirror the text on the form. While it may be helpful to review a form fully using standard read mode, you should go into "forms mode" before beginning to fill in the form.

If you need additional accessibility accommodations please contact XXXX *

*Note: The Web Council Accommodations Work Group is in the process of formulating accommodation recommendations. Once this information is available we will have a single accommodation page for all to use.

Related Standards:

Accessibility (Section 508) and Email
Accessibility (Section 508) and Video/Multimedia Content
Presenting Links to Materials in Multiple Languages
Provide File Type and Size with Downloadable Files
Skip Navigation (Accessibility/508)
Use Text for Links

Related Guidelines:



Forms must be Section 508 compliant.