Given that the IRS must make its service available to everyone, engineers must design their web applications to be accessible and usable by anyone. When building systems, the IRS must comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which requires US Federal agencies to ensure that people with disabilities can use their systems in a comparable way to that of people without disabilities. Engineers must also take into account that many of its users have little computer literacy.


Working on the CSC modernization program, STP software engineers and IRS usability engineers teamed together to design the eAuthentication system, which provides access for millions of people to IRS online applications. To assist with designing an accessible application, the engineers used industry standards to create the user experience. While these guidelines were helpful, nothing could replace feedback from the users themselves. The team needed a way to gather data from real users months in advance of an actual working system.

The Solution

Knowing that external access to IRS R&D and development environments was forbidden, STP software engineers developed a complete simulation of the entire eAuthentication system, deployable on an IRS issued laptop. Using the mobile simulation, the IRS collected valuable real world user experience data from volunteers at tax forums throughout the country. With this feedback, important updates were made to the user interfaces which allowed for a successful launch.