RE: PDF's and Signatures

I have to disagree slightly with Andy's claim - PDFs *are* covered-by and included in WCAG, and in fact there is a whole section of Success Techniques provided by the W3C. Please see:

I think the issue(s) you will find problematic include how to render that wet signature to non-visual users (it's not text, so OCR etc. will struggle to deal with what is, or will be, essentially a graphical blob on the document). Another issue, outside of WCAG, might center on security (and personal data theft - I don't know if I would want my signature floating round the internet) - although this issue could/would be mitigated through the use of digital signatures. If you MUST include a graphic of a signature, you will of course need to also provide appropriate alt text (I would likely counsel this: alt="[Signature: Mickey Mouse]")

I am personally unaware of the current state of accessibility and digital signatures on PDFs, although my first guess is that it is likely not perfect, but not terrible either: Adobe does a good job of meeting their ADA requirements, and PDF is a robust and long-standing (if still imperfect) tool in their shed. Perhaps Andrew might have a comment here (?)

If, on the other hand, you looking to see if adding a signature is *required* by WCAG 2, the answer is no, irrespective of the document format (HTML, PDF, RTF, etc.)



John Foliot
JP Morgan Chase
Senior Web Accessibility Specialist | Lead Accessibility Trainer
Digital Customer Experience
600 Harrison Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA, 94107

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From: Andy Keyworth []
Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 11:46 AM
To: 'Kane, Sarah';
Subject: RE: PDF's and Signatures

Hi Sarah,

In a strict sense, WCAG 2.0 doesn't apply to PDFs, but rather to web content in the sense of HTML (and dynamic coding, etc.) pages. Having a signature on any form of web content is outside of WCAG 2.0's purview, as a signature wouldn't in itself be an accessibility matter- the means by which a signature is presented, is.


Andy Keyworth
Senior Web Accessibility Specialist
T-Base Communications
Phone: 613-236-0866 | Toll free: 1-800-563-0668 x 1256<> | Ogdensburg, NY | Ottawa, ON

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From: Kane, Sarah []
Sent: January-21-15 2:34 PM
Subject: PDF's and Signatures

Though it seems to be not recommended to add signatures to PDFs on a public website, I have not been able to find if it's within WCAG 2.0 guidelines to include a signature either by adding an e-signature or inserting an image of a signature with alt text. Any suggestions or resources?

Thanks for your time,

Sarah Kane
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Received on Thursday, 22 January 2015 03:23:14 UTC