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Re: PDF accessibility guidelines. WAS: Re: PDF's and Signatures

From: Elizabeth J. Pyatt <ejp10@psu.edu>
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2015 11:55:34 -0500
Cc: Duff Johnson <duff@duff-johnson.com>, "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-Id: <84B43179-82DE-4C38-8D81-7259D1A056E1@psu.edu>
To: "Thompson, Rachel" <rsthompson2@ua.edu>

At Penn State, our official recommendation is to avoid PDFs as the only source of information. That is, include PDF for printer use, but add accessible content (e.g. accessible Word or CMS page). This is because the process to create or repair a fully accessible PDF is very difficult for faculty (or even technical staff) to completely master.

See content on http://accessibility.psu.edu/pdf

We also point users to vendors such as Common Look which we know can repair PDFs, and we link to tutorials to repair/create accessible PDF including ones from WebAIM,  Lynda.com and Adobe as well as OCR software. If someone is able create an accessible PDF,  it is fine to post as the only document, and it does sometimes happens. 

Penn State does offer a testing service for PDFs, but we have found that a lot of "accessible" PDFs are not usable by actual users on a screen reader. For whatever reason, the repair process has gone astray.


P.S.  I've had the best luck creating a reasonably accessible PDF converting from Open Office to a tagged PDF. Office 2013 is also supposed to do a good job, but Office 2010 is definitely quirky. InDesign seems to be a little quirky still, unfortunately.

> On Jan 22, 2015, at 10:06 AM, Thompson, Rachel <rsthompson2@ua.edu> wrote:
> Hi, all. 
> This is a question I have received several times lately: What
> accessibility guidelines should our web teams and instructors follow when
> making PDFs available online? It seems like there is not a consensus with
> this group (and you are the group I look to for guidance on these issues).
> What guidelines have other organizations adopted? Any ideas or feedback
> are welcome.
> Rachel
> Dr. Rachel S. Thompson
> Director, Emerging Technology and Accessibility
> Center for Instructional Technology
> University of Alabama
> http://accessibility.ua.edu
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Duff Johnson <duff@duff-johnson.com>
> Date: Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 8:47 AM
> To: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
> Subject: Re: PDF's and Signatures
> Resent-From: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
> Resent-Date: Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 8:47 AM
>> I have to disagree slightly with Andyıs claim ­ PDFs *are* covered-by
>> and included in WCAG
> To a degree, There are many facets of PDF that WCAG does not cover. For a
> complete understanding of PDF accessibility it is necessary to look to
> PDF/UA, the ISO standard for accessible PDF.
>> , and in fact there is a whole section of Success Techniques provided by
>> the W3C. Please see: http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WCAG20-TECHS/pdf.html
> While many of these are useful, some are simply wrong, misleading, or
> both. Additionally, these techniques represent only a modest fraction of
> whatıs necessary to guarantee an accessible PDF.
>> I think the issue(s) you will find problematic include how to render
>> that wet signature to non-visual users (itıs not text, so OCR etc. will
>> struggle to dealinclude a graphic of a signature, you will of course need
>> to also provide appropriate alt text (I would likely counsel this:
>> alt=²[Signature: Mickey Mouse]²)
> One must distinguish between an ink signature (which is simply a graphics
> object requiring alt text to be accessible) and a digital signature, which
> is a property of the document itself, and should be exposed by AT
> accordingly just as is other document metadata.
>> 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, buta robust and long-standing (if still imperfect) tool in
>> their shed. Perhaps Andrew might have a comment here (?)
> So far as I am aware the digital signature UIs in Adobeıs tools are as
> accessible as the rest of Adobe Acrobat / Readerıs UI. This has *nothing*
> to do, however, with an ³ink² signature, which is simply a pretty picture
> on the page, and like all other pictures, needs alt text to expose it to
> all forms of AT equally.
> Duff.

Elizabeth J. Pyatt, Ph.D.
Co-Chair Accessibility Technology and Information Committee

Received on Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:56:05 UTC

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