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Accessibility and PDFs

Accessibility and PDFs

Overview

PDF files are created in a variety of ways, from a variety of applications, and for a variety of purposes. Achieving the desired accessibility goals for an individual PDF file requires understanding the nature of the PDF and its intended use. PDF files are typically created in some other application. Optimally document accessibility should begin in the native document format. For example, many documents are created in a word processing or desktop publishing application, and then exported as PDF documents. A completely inaccessible PDF is just an image of a wall of text.

Definitions

PDF – Portable Document Format

Accessible PDF vs Inaccessible PDF – accessible pdf starts with sources document being accessible, an inaccessible PDF usually consists of scanned pages that are really a series of images, and therefore inaccessible to screen readers.

Minimum Compliance

Word document – run the accessibility check first and address all issues. Office will save this information to create accessibility tags in the PDF. Be sure the Document structure tags for accessibility is selected so the converted PDF becomes accessible.

Reasons Why it is Difficult to Make a PDF Accessible

Software programs to convert to accessible pdf are expensive. Sometimes it requires using several software programs.

It is very time consuming to convert to an accessible pdf – it goes beyond just scanning the source document.

Call to Action – What Can I do Now

You may want to leave fixing a PDF to be accessible as your last resort. Look for an html (HyperText Markup Language) page, find the source document the PDF was made from, or try to find a different accessible document that will still fulfill your purpose.

Alt text is used for images as well as other non-text content such as graphs, tables, infographics, etc.

Resources

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