[BCAB] Accessible PDF

Gunn, Dave dave.gunn at rnib.org.uk
Mon Apr 18 17:49:46 BST 2011


In addition to the great resources Jack highlighted I thought it might
be useful to clarify, at present the only way to produce an accessible
PDF is to manipulate the PDF properties in Adobe Acrobat.

While there are a hundred and one ways to originate a PDF, none of them
will produce a PDF which passes Adobe's own detailed accessibility "Full
Test" in Acrobat. All creation methods (including conversion in Adobe
Acrobat) require some rework to ensure reading order, alt text, language
etc are assigned properly.

Our own advice on PDF suggests "To ensure accessibility it is good
practice to also offer any PDF document in an alternative format such as
plain text or Word", basically because there is only one way to get it
right, and so many ways to come unstuck.

Hope this helps

Dave 

-------
Dave Gunn
Technical Manager, RNIB Centre for Accessible Information (CAI).

-----Original Message-----
From: bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk
[mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Jack Garfinkel
Sent: 18 April 2011 17:00
To: 'BCAB Discussion List'
Subject: Re: [BCAB] Accessible PDF

Hi Sam,

I'm sighted so it goes without saying that my advice is no substitute
for proper testing. With that proviso, I've given you an overview below
covering conversion from Word and retro-fitting an existing PDF. If
you're situation is different e.g. your source document is a PowerPoint
presentation, let me know.

Feel free to contact me off list if you want!

Thanks,
Jack Garfinkel

Online Editor

*Is PDF right for you?*
If this is online content, a normal web page may server you better in
terms of accessibility if that's your primary concern. Consider your
options

*Converting from word*
If you're starting with a word document, you're really asking is how to
produce an accessible Word document which is something I train in-house
staff on here.

Web aim have good resources on using Word:
http://webaim.org/techniques/word/
Proper heading levels are the easy win, although there are more
formatting subtleties once you've mastered the basics.

Adobe also have their own document:
http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/products/acrobat/pdf/A9-accessible-pd
f-from-word.pdf

You also need to convert it in the "correct" way - this isn't hard
though, just be aware that that all PDF 'printing' programs are created
equal.

Web aim on converting using Word 2007 or 2010:
http://webaim.org/techniques/acrobat/converting#word

If you only have word 2003 and don't want to buy Adobe Acrobat, then
Open Office (and presumably, the forked project Libre Office) is your
best bet. It will open .doc files, and the PDFs look pretty good under
the hood to me.

Open office Wiki entry on exporting to PDF:
http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Documentation/OOo3_User_Guides/
Getting_Started/Exporting_to_PDF


 *Retro fitting an existing PDF*
You need someone with Acrobat Professional who can manually tag the
document to make it fully accessible. This assumes that the text in
there is 'available' as text - generally it is though unless you're
really unlucky. Even a scanned documents can usually have 'OCR' run on
them, although results may be mixed.

Adobe's documentation on their tagging semantics is pretty poor, but
does follow HTML principles. I learned most of what I know by looking at
files converted from well formatted word documents and from a couple of
other online resources:
-Adobe's overview of the 'accessibility repair workflow'
http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/products/acrobat/pdf/A9-pdf-access-re
pair-workflow.pdf
-Adobe's overview of PDF tags
http://help.adobe.com/en_US/Acrobat/8.0/Professional/help.html?content=W
S58a04a822e3e50102bd615109794195ff-7cd8.html

If you've got a paid up version of Adobe Acrobat, there are other
options - If you're lucky you might be able to export/convert to plain
text which would allow access to the content even if not making the
structure accessible.


-----Original Message-----
From: bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk
[mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Howie, Sam
Sent: 18 April 2011 11:25
Subject: [BCAB] Accessible PDF

Hi All
Can anyone tell how I can make pdf files fully accessible to screen
reader users? Are there are set guidelines
Thanks
Sam


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