Accessible PDFs

Accessible PDFs (Portable Document Format) are often referred as tagged PDFs. Similar accessibilityAccessibility Accessibility (commonly shortened to a11y) refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers). ( rules applies for PDFs as HTMLHTML HTML is an acronym for Hyper Text Markup Language. It is a markup language that is used in the development of web pages and websites. documents:

  • headings structure.
  • appropriate link texts.
  • color contrast.
  • alternative text for images.

Tagged PDF

PDF tags are the semantic content marks and indicate the logical document structure and reading order. Compared to HTML tags, PDF tags look similar, but are not the same.

In the source document (e.g. Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign) you are able to set the future tag structure. If you use document styles to set headings, rather than changing the font and sizes manually, then PDF tags will be set in the resulting document. General content will be inside <p> tags. It also important to format your lists and tables correctly to get good results while exporting your PDF.

The Paciello Group has a good overview of PDF inaccessibility.

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Export as accessible PDF

The list of software which are able to export a PDF is quite long. In the export settings of your software, you should watch for an option which is called Tagged PDF or similar.

Here are couple of resources how to create accessible PDF.

  1. WebAIM describes how to export to PDF in Word, Open Office and Acrobat.
  2. How to create accessible PDF by 3PlayMedia.

Note: Google Docs doesn’t yet support the export of a tagged and accessible PDF yet without any help of a pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the Plugin Directory or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party.

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