How to make a PDF accessible
There could be a whole book on common pitfalls and mistakes when it comes to testing PDF documents for accessibility and PDF remediation. Often issues that come up in PDF remediation are easily fixed. The challenge comes in locating the error and knowing how to fix it. Here are a few common issues known to cause challenges with PDF documents.
Embedding fonts is one of the first steps you should perform when remediating a document. If you skip this step and try to perform your remediation, when you get to the end of your remediation process and then embed the fonts, your document could become corrupted. Once the document is corrupted, you will have to start over from a previously saved version.
Adobe Auto Tag Feature
Even though Adobe offers an auto tag feature that will automatically tag a document, this feature is not always your friend. Sometimes the feature works like a charm, so it never hurts to try. Make sure that you have saved another version and run the auto-tagging tool. Running this tool can sometimes corrupt your document, or it will work its magic, and you will have a wonderfully tagged document.
When tagging content, if you select the wrong things, some of your content may ‘disappear’. The content doesn’t really disappear, rather layers become hidden in the PDF. You need to rearrange these layers to show in the correct order. You will have to search for your hidden content in the content panel and rearrange the content to bring it back to the front.
Even if you set up links correctly in your original authoring software, sometimes you have to re-create the links in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. All links have to have a Link OBJR tag associated with it in order to pass compliance and to work correctly as a clickable link. You may have to search for the tag and reorder the tags for the link to function correctly.
When including data in a PDF document, it can often be better understood in a tabular format. Using tables in the document layout can be useful, but tables can also be complicated to set up accessibly in a PDF document. Setting up their structure can be time-consuming and easy to get wrong. If you have the order of the data mixed up, your document can also become corrupted.
Alternative text can be tricky if you have not studied a highly specialized subject. Knowing the correct jargon and terminology is an important part of alternative text.
(Excerpt from “Don’t Forget The Documents: Minimizing ADA Accessibility Liability In Online PDFs” by Leslie Janek. Read the full article.)
Learn how to make a PDF accessible
Microassist offers a series of document accessibility courses including:
PDF Accessibility Fundamentals – our on-demand course
Testing and Remediation Strategies for PDF Accessibility – our virtual instructor-led series
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