If the page has content elements that are created by scripts such as JavaScript or Flash, are these scripts accessible? Can the user interact with the content (e.g. keyboard access)?


(Section 508 Paragraph L / W3C 8.1, 9.2 and 6.5)

JavaScript is not HTML. It is a distinct, separate scripting language. The computer reading the JavaScript must have a JavaScript interpreter, a program that interprets the script and runs it, and that interpreter must be enabled.

HTML alone creates very static pages. There is little user interaction and little by the way of dynamic content. HTML cannot “think.” It does not have the capabilities to perform mathematics, store variables, or dynamically display content. JavaScript enables your web page to “think,” allowing developers to implement little applications into their pages. These applications may do things as simple as changing a graphic when the mouse rolls over it to something as complex as performing advanced mathematical formulas on user input.

However, JavaScript can also introduce accessibility issues. These issues include:

  • Navigation. Inability or difficulty navigating using a keyboard or assistive technology.
  • Hidden content. Presentation of content or functionality that is not accessible to assistive technologies.
  • User control. Lack of user control over automated content changes.
  • Confusion/Disorientation. Altering or disabling the normal functionality of the browser or triggering events that the user may not be aware of.

A web page containing JavaScript will typically be fully accessible if the functionality of the script is device independent (does not require only a mouse or only a keyboard) and the content is available to assistive technologies (e.g. a screen reader can read the text).

How to find JavaScript on a web page:


  • “Identify Multimedia” and “Identify Applets” on “Doc Info” menu.
  • Check keyboard control of the JavaScript.

How to test JavaScript (three "separate" but complimentary methods below):

  • See if you can use your keyboard tab through or access the areas of Java (for example, if there is a form that uses Java, make sure you can tab into it and type, and press the Enter key to submit information)
  • Disable JavaScript in either the Web Accessibility Toolbar if I’m in IE (IE Options > Toggle JavaScript) or the Web Developer Toolbar if I’m in Firefox (Disable > Disable JavaScript > All JavaScript)
  • Go back to the page and see if the areas youI suspect of using JavaScript have stopped working. With the WDT for Chrome, you can’t disable JavaScript, but you can have it open a new tab where it shows you what JavaScript, if any, is present in the code (Information > View JavaScript).
  • Use the WAT to identify scripts
  • If an “on click” event is listed, tab through the web page to determine whether the keyboard can navigate and activate all menus and buttons.
  • If there are drop-down and fly-over menus, tab through the website to determine whether the keyboard can access the links in these menus. If not, look for an option to disable drop-down or fly-over menus or a way to access static menus that provide the same links. If it moves, and it's not an animated GIF (i.e. a single, looping animation frame), then you’re probably dealing with JavaScript.
  • If the page has embedded multimedia objects, attempt to have the screen reader find text that contains the same content.


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