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About the contributor
Duff Johnson

A veteran of the electronic document space, Duff Johnson is an independent consultant, Executive Director of the PDF Association and ISO Project co-Leader (and US TAG chair) for ISO 32000 and ISO 14289.
More contributions
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.

Modernizing PDF Techniques for Accessibility

The PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit will identify best-practices in tagging various cases in PDF documents. Questions to be addressed will likely include: the legal ways to tag a nested list, the correct way to caption multiple images, the appropriate way to organize content within headings.

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/UA: Steady Progress Towards Publication

In development since 2004, PDF/UA is now almost ready for implementers and policy-makers.

While it’s been possible to make accessible PDF using Adobe’s Acrobat Professional since 2000, many developers have avoided this technically complex area due to the lack of standardization and relatively poor support in the AT developer community.

That’s why PDF/UA is eagerly awaited in the accessible technology (AT) community, in government and by disabled users, search-engine developers and others who depend on logically-structured content.

PDF/UA details a set of essential and optional features that must be present in files and software claiming conformance with the Standard. As such, PDF/UA provides policy-makers with the regulatory tool they’ve been looking for: a way to understand the W3C’s WCAG 2.0 in the PDF context, and thus a clear means of directing procurement officials on software purchasing decisions. It remains for software developers to meet the challenge offered by this strict new standard.

Disabled users aren’t the only ones to benefit from PDF/UA. The standard requires correct tagging of a document’s contents to identify logical order and semantics with the goal of enhancing the output quality of any process that involves extracting text and graphics from the page. Implementations taking advantage of PDF/UA will see improved performance of PDF content in search-engines, text-to-speech applications, reflow on mobile devices, and more.

The chances are good that governments worldwide will sooner or later move towards adoption of PDF/UA conforming software for their desktop electronic document applications, high-volume document generation systems, and elsewhere. It’s time PDF developers started thinking about how to respond to this new International Standard which specifies the ISO 32000 features and other technical requirements necessary for accessible PDF documents and forms.

PDF/UA-1 is now off to its second formal Draft, and the Committee does not expect many (perhaps any) significant changes prior to publication. The next meeting of the International Committee for PDF/UA will be hosted by Microsoft and held in Bellevue, Washington during ISO’s TC 171 SC 2 Winter Meeting, also known as “PDF Standards Week” in December 2012, and should begin the final phase of PDF/UA development prior to publication sometime in 2012.

Those PDF Association members interested in PDF/UA should email editor@pdfa.org to ask to to be kept informed as the PDF/UA Competence Center is set up and the Technical and Marketing Working Groups are brought online. We can also assist you in getting involved directly with the Standards development process itself, via AIIM in the US, or member countries of ISO TC 171 elsewhere.

Tags: WCAG 2.0, accessibility, standards development, standards week
Categories: PDF/UA