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Accessible PDF

What is an Accessible PDF and how it works?

Accessible PDF & How it works? icon of PDF

To all the curious minds out there – Have you ever wondered how digital books, games, and fun stuff on the internet can be enjoyed by everyone, including people with disabilities? Well, that’s where Accessible PDFs come into play! Accessible PDFs have emerged as a vital tool in making digital content inclusive for people with disabilities.

What is an Accessible PDF?

An accessible PDF ensures that everyone, including people with disabilities can interact with your document and access the content, images, graphs, forms that are present in the document. It incorporates features like structured tagging, alternative text for images, and proper document structure, enabling screen readers and other assistive technologies to interpret and convey the content effectively.

Accessible PDFs ensure a logical reading order, readable fonts, and color contrast to guarantee that individuals with visual, hearing, cognitive, or mobility impairments can access and comprehend the information seamlessly. In essence, accessible PDFs serve as a gateway to a more inclusive digital experience, making digital content universally accessible to all users.

Key Features of an Accessible PDF:

  1. Headings, paragraphs, lists, and tables in a PDF document are tagged properly, creating a logical reading order.
  2. Images and graphs have alternate texts or alternate descriptions provided to enable screen reader users to understand the content of the picture or the graph.
  3. Making a PDF form accessible requires a little more effort as it is more than just dropping form elements into your document. Form fields are labeled correctly, and interactive elements are designed to be navigable using assistive technologies. An interesting read PDF Form – Yes, Yes, Time Screen Reader users can now fill up forms independently!
  4. It is important to note that colour is not the sole means of conveying information, and hence an accessible PDF ensures that there is sufficient contrast between text and background for readability.
  5. Multimedia elements such as videos and audio files include textual descriptions or transcripts.
  6. Readable fonts and size are used to enhance readability of the PDF document.

Check out this article on What Is PDF Remediation?

How Accessible PDFs Work?

An Accessible PDF works like a digital superhero, ensuring people with disabilities too can enjoy the wonders of digital content. Through structured tagging, providing alternative text to images and enhancing the overall readability, an accessible PDF enable screen reader and assistive technology users to transform words into speech, describe images, and create an inclusive and seamless experience for all users.

  1. Tagging and Structure: Accessible PDFs are properly tagged and have a defined structure of the document. The PDF tags provide information about the type and purpose of each element, enabling assistive technologies to interpret and present content coherently.
  2. Navigation and Reading Order: Due to a logical reading order, screen reader users can navigate through the document in a meaningful sequence and can comprehend the content in the intended order. If you are a student with disability, check this out As a student with disability, how to navigate an Accessible PDF textbook?
  3. Alternative Descriptions: Alt text for images and other non-text elements like graphs etc is embedded within the document, conveying descriptive information to users who cannot see the visual content.
  4. Interactive Elements: Accessible PDFs use properly labeled form fields and interactive elements, making it possible for users with disabilities to interact with and complete forms or navigate through clickable elements.
  5. Compliance to Accessibility compliance & guidelines: Accessible PDFs adhere to standards like PDF/UA, HHS, ADA, Section 508, WCAG etc ensuring that the digital document is not only inclusive to all but also adheres to the legally set standards.

Conclusion

Just because a document is available as a downloadable PDF does not mean that it is an accessible PDF. As we know, PDFs are the go-to format for organizations to share information. Whether it’s a storybook or a game, accessible PDFs make sure everyone can dive into the fun without any roadblocks.

By understanding the principles of accessibility and getting them manually tested by people with disabilities, 247 Accessible Documents aims at simplifying document accessibility for organizations across the globe. The 247 Self Service Portal helps you to upload your documents and receive accessible PDF documents easily. Schedule a Demo today to know more about our PDF remediation service. 

Additional read: 3 Resources for Creating Accessible PDFs

By Ramya Venkitesh

Head - Accessibility New Initiatives, Actively involved in formulating new ideas to create Innovative Accessible Solutions across all Disabilities.