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PDF Association

Mission Statement: To promote Open Standards-based electronic document implementations using PDF technology through education, expertise and shared experience for stakeholders worldwide.
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Participating in the PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit

The PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit’s objective is to establish a broad-based understanding of how PDF files should be tagged for accessibilty. It’s an opportunity to focus on establishing a common set of examples of accessible PDF content, and identify best-practice when tagging difficult cases.

Refried PDF

My hospital emailed me a medical records release form as a PDF. They told me to print it, fill it, sign it, scan it and return it to the medical records department, in that order. In 2018? To get the form via email (i.e., electronically), yet be asked to print it? Did the last 20 years just… not mean anything! So I thought I’d be clever. I’d fill it first, THEN print it. Or better yet, never print it, but sign it anyhow, and return it along with a note making the case for improving their workflow. The story continues…

Slides and video recordings of PDF Days Europe 2018

You missed the PDF Days Europe 2018? Never mind! Here you can find the slides and video recordings of all 32 stunning sessions!

Using PDF/UA in accessibility checklists

PDF/UA, like PDF itself, is internally complex, but used correctly, actually makes things easier.

PDF Association expands its board of directors

Catherine Andersz of PDFTron Systems, Alaine Behler of iText Software and Peter Wyatt, ISO Project Leader for ISO 32000 enrich the newly elected board of the PDF Association.

Modernizing PDF Techniques for Accessibility

Logo for the PDF Techniques Accessibility SummitIn most cases, when institutions look to understand what’s expected from website designers in term of accessibility the answer is the same: WCAG 2.0, a standard developed under the auspices of the W3C.

Although rooted in core web technologies such as HTTP, HTML, CSS and JavaScript, WCAG 2.0 (and its successor, WCAG 2.1) is written in a mostly technically-neutral fashion. In accordance with regulatory pressure to keep things as simple as possible, this web content accessibility specification has been generally applied to all manner of electronic media beyond web content.

Conspicuous among these is PDF.

PDF Techniques for WCAG 2.0

WCAG 2.0 not only sets out normative language defining requirements for accessibility in web content, the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group that created WCAG specifications also created Techniques for applying these specifications in various types of content.

WAI clearly indicates that other techniques for determining conformance with WCAG 2.0 may be specified, and provides clear instructions on how to regard Techniques as “sufficient”, “advisory” or otherwise. To model the idea of techniques for accessibility, and to provide a set of references for developers to consider when creating or assessing their own, WAI created Techniques for HTML, CSS, Flash, Silverlight, ARIA and PDF, as well as server-side scripting.

These formal PDF Techniques have been slightly tweaked over the ten or so years of their publication, but as of August 2018 still contained some significant limitations:

  • Only a modest subset of the situations requiring guidance are covered by the 23 provided techniques
  • With some exceptions, the Techniques tend to characterize the issues in terms of a single vendor’s software
  • Some Techniques include errors, misleading or suboptimal information
  • The Techniques mix highly technical and end-user information together, potentially frustrating both types of consumer

These concerns are about to be addressed.

The PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit

Hosted by the PDF Association, this event is designed to bring experts in PDF accessibility together to introduce, debate and agree upon a wide variety of examples of properly-tagged and therefore accessible PDF files in order to establish a baseline understanding of what constitutes “semantically appropriate tags in a logical reading order”, to quote PDF/UA-1, 7.1, paragraph 2.

The event will focus on identifying best-practice when tagging difficult or edge-cases in PDF-encoded content. Questions to be addressed will likely include:

  • What are the legal ways to tag a nested list?
  • What’s at least one correct way to caption multiple images?
  • What’s the appropriate way to organize content within headings?
  • What’s the correct way to associate a footnote’s label with the content?
  • What’s the correct way to validate a given set of tags as semantically appropriate?

The results of the summit’s conclusions will be edited for publication by the PDF Association’s PDF/UA Technical Working Group, part of the PDF/UA Competence Center. The target is a new Tagged PDF Implementation Guide focusing on tagging.

Once structured appropriately, this guide will be used as basis for a proposed replacement to the current set of PDF Techniques for WCAG 2.0, and as the default set of PDF Techniques for WCAG 2.1.

Want to know more?

The PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit event page includes the registration form and other information specific to attending this event.

Categories: PDF/UA, Technology