Evaluating your agency’s accessibility just got a whole lot easier with GSA’s OpenACR Editor

Jul 8, 2024

Do you want to make it easier to meet the accessibility needs of everyone your agency interacts with and serves online?

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) created a new tool, OpenACR Editor, to guide you through completing the Accessibility Conformance Reports (ACRs) that evaluate the accessibility of your digital products. This editing tool is part of GSA’s OpenACR initiative to modernize and standardize conformance reports to improve their use and effectiveness in evaluating products and services. The reports are used to measure how well a digital product or service meets the accessibility standards required by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. The goal is to make sure people with disabilities can access government websites and services.

Logo for the Accessibility Conformance Report ACR Editor.

OpenACR Editor is designed to help accessibility subject matter experts create and share machine-readable OpenACR documents. The editor takes evaluators through the different categories of the OpenACR format that assesses all aspects of accessibility. It is built with JavaScript and allows you to either build an OpenACR file from scratch, or import one that has already been written. Then you can save the resulting OpenACR in multiple common file formats. With the YAML format, you can save it to your computer and re-upload it to the ACR editor to make additional changes later. Either way, the resulting document must validate against the schema and will be machine-readable.

“The OpenACR Editor tool is a free online platform that walks you step-by-step through the requirements for a validated ACR,” GSA’s Office of Technology Policy, Senior Data Scientist Brianna Gomez McGowan said. “The tool structure is based on the widely-known Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, or VPAT®, so it should look familiar to folks who have completed an Accessibility Conformance Report before.”

The new editing tool builds on this established standard allows OpenACR to align with the Web Accessibility Initiative — part of the World Wide Web Consortium — and enables the OpenACR Editor to be expanded in the future. The eventual goal is to store the Accessibility Conformance Reports in an open source code repository so you can see the history of each report, note where accessibility has improved, and track changes over time. GSA also plans to have an OpenACR repository where agencies can store their reports so that everyone can share and access this important information easily. This will also help us ensure that identified barriers to accessibility are addressed and not forgotten.

“Considering the nature of this project, the development team of the OpenACR Editor tool have worked hard to make the tool itself as accessible as possible,” said Andrew Nielsen, director of GSA’s Government-wide IT Accessibility Program.


GSA’s OpenACR team encourages you to try using the tool and tell them what you think via an email to openacr@gsa.gov or the OpenACR GitHub repository. This tool is a work in progress; therefore, we appreciate your feedback.

To access the OpenACR Editor and other helpful Section 508 tools, go to Section508.gov/tools.

Disclaimer: All references to specific brands, products, and companies are used only for illustrative purposes and do not imply endorsement by the U.S. federal government or any federal government agency.