PDF Accessibility

Texas Wins FCC Award for Accessibility Tools

The Texas state government won one of seven awards for innovation in accessibility communications by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) award. The award was for Texas’ new web tools that help people create accessible Microsoft 2010 materials. The tools can help users create everything from accessible Word document to PowerPoint slides.

The tools offer a set of learning modules that help people create accessible documents and use the features of the Microsoft Office 2010 suite.

Read more at the Office of the Governor Rick Perry website.

A number of the PDF example documents supporting the PDF techniques remain incorrect. Digital Access at Vision Australia have previously notified the W3C of the specific errors within these documents. The incorrect examples are likely to cause confusion for those that are new to implementing these techniques so we would suggest the examples are updated.

Where the ADA does not spell out specifics, legal leveraging is filling the gap on how schools must accommodate making course textbooks and materials accessible.  The recent settlement between the nonprofit group Disability Rights Advocates and UC Berkley sets a precedent which proponents hope other universities will follow.

Rebecca Williford, an attorney for the DRA, said, “Access to print material is an emerging issue.  We’re hopeful that the technology is going to get better and that the agreement with UC Berkeley will help to put students on a more equal playing field.”

The improvements Berkeley agreed to include:

  • providing digital versions of textbooks within 10 days,
  • providing  course readers within 17 days
  • encouraging instructors to identify course materials earlier,
  • providing scanning machines to allow students to self-scan materials.

The school will also implement a library print conversion system to enable students to request a specific book or journal from the library.  This system will make materials available in different formats in about 5 days.

Read more about this story at LA Times - Pact gives disabled UC Berkeley students more access to books.

Adobe has unveiled in this New Year a series of documents to assist with evaluating and creating accessible PDFs using Acrobat XI. For the beginner, the PDF Accessibility Overview is a good introduction to the accessibility features of PDFs, Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader.  For professionals who evaluate the accessibility and repair  PDFs : Using the Acrobat XI Pro Accessibility Checker, Acrobat XI Pro PDF Accessibility Repair Workflow. Finally, for those creating new PDFs , these documents  are now available: Acrobat XI Pro Accessible Forms and Interactive Documents, Acrobat XI accessibility best practices document and training resources page.

View the full article, Acrobat XI Accessibility Documentation.

Many websites provide important information in PDF documents but they are often not accessible, which means that readers with disabilities miss the information. Most PDFs can be made accessible in a small number of steps that will seem familiar if you have created accessible HTML.

Have you heard of PDF/UA?  It is a complementary set of guidelines to the WCAG 2.0 success criteria and is a technical standard that provides a consistent means for achieving accessible PDF documents.  Recently the AIIM published a mapping, Achieving WCAG 2.0 with PDF/UA, to help people understand the alignment between the two sets of guidelines. 

PDF documents can present some special problems for accessibility but a variety of techniques are available, either in the original authoring tool or in Adobe tools, for ensuring accessibility.

A document that passes the Adobe full accessibility check could still be difficult for a person with disabilities to use and might not meet accessibility guidelines and best practices. Interactive Accessibility goes beyond the automated check to look at the following:

Have you been told that you must make a PDF document accessible? Assuming that you are either an old hand at this process or have now learned what it means for a PDF to be accessible, you now face the task of actually doing the tags work in Acrobat. If you have done this before with any PDF of more than a few pages you know that it involves developing a process and then settling in for a fun time of clicking, typing, and dragging.

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