PDF Accessibility: What You Need to Know

PDF Accessibility

PDF Accessibility has been a hot topic for some time now, but lately we’ve been inundated with requests!

What Is PDF Accessibility?

Very simply, PDF accessibility, or PDF remediation, is the process of making PDFs accessible to people using screen readers.

We’ve had a number of clients and prospects ask about PDF remediation in the last few months. So, we thought we’d share some of our knowledge with you. We got an intriguing email from a client the other day, and it read as follows:

Hi eSSENTIAL Accessibility,

I was using the screen reader in your assistive technology app to read one of our eGuides and the app didn’t work.

Am I doing something wrong? Would you be able to take a look at our guide and let me know why the app is not working?

Sincerely,
Client X

The question might seem complex, but the answer was quite simple. It’s not the technology, but the PDF itself. We responded:

Dear Client X,

We’re sorry that the app stopped working, however the issue is with the eGuide and not our app.

The app provides a user with a variety of assistive tools. It DOES NOT make any digital content including PDFs accessible. The content must be properly coded in order for the tools to function correctly.

For example, if the file has an image and that image does not have an alternative text attribute, then the screen reader will not be able to tell an individual with visual impairments what’s on the image.

Furthermore, if the reading order is not properly set, the reader will not be able to read the document in the accurate order.

Please let us know if we can help with our PDF remediation services.

Sincerely,
eSSENTIAL Accessibility

The Truth About PDF Accessibility Standards

With the need for information to be easily available online and in a secure format, many companies have opted to PDF documents and post them online. Some examples include: bank statements, bills, transit schedules, restaurant menus, municipality recreational guides, store flyers, corporate fact sheets, earnings statements, etc.

While posting a PDF can save a company some time from recreating the information into a webpage, they can remain inaccessible if not tagged properly.

How Do I Make My PDFs Accessible?

There are a variety of PDF accessibility checker tools and ways to make files compliant:

  1. If you know and understand the complex tagging tools in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. This approach will allow you to ensure that the tags, reading order, titles, colour contrast, among other things are all in conformance. Learn more about PDF accessibility Acrobat tools.
  2. If you aren’t familiar with Adobe Acrobat Pro DC’s tagging tools or have a vast number of files to remediate, hire a firm to do the heavy lifting and make the documents accessible to screen readers and other assistive technologies.
  3. Recreate the document as a web page and ensure that the page is accessible.

How To Tell If a PDF is Accessible

Although there are many online PDF accessibility checkers such as the PAC PDF accessibility checker, to ensure compliance it’s best to have a professional company help make sure you’re complying with WCAG guidelines.

Following PDF accessibility standards and guidelines might not seem like a priority, but it should be. Allowing people with visual impairments to seamlessly engage with you online makes for a great customer experience. A great customer experience equals happy customers. Having happy customers equals… well, you know what having happy customers equals.

An Innovative Solution

eSSENTIAL ACCESSIBILITY has developed a comprehensive accessibility solution to help organizations follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and achieve and maintain compliance with standards and regulations. This includes integrating web compliance evaluation services with assistive technology to deliver a transformative experience for people with disabilities. Learn more about eSSENTIAL ACCESSIBILITY’s innovative solution.

Discover how you can give people with disabilities an inclusive digital experience

Request a personalized demo, and one of our experts will answer all of your accessibility questions.