37th Annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Has Concluded
Accessible PDFs: Holistic Approach to Accessibility Testing
- Date & Time
Wednesday, March 16, 2022 - 4:20 PM PST
Creating accessible PDF documents is an essential component of most organizations’ digital accessibility process. However, many people do not test PDF documents adequately to ensure compliance. To test PDFs successfully for accessibility, a holistic process needs to be used that considers the WCAG requirements, as well as end-user needs and how the document integrates with assistive technology.
This presentation will demonstrate the steps required to ensure PDF compliance via a holistic testing process that includes a combination of automated and manual testing processes. Both simple and complex documents will be reviewed, as well as how to test special situations, such as strikethrough text, superscript text, and other special font attributes.
The first step in most document authors’ PDF accessibility testing process is to run an accessibility full check with the Accessibility Checker in Adobe Acrobat Pro. While this is a great starting place, there are several accessibility flags that can’t be checked by the Accessibility Checker – including reading order and color contrast. This is also true if you are using other automated PDF accessibility checkers. The key missing piece in a holistic testing process is manual testing. As a rule of thumb, over 60% of the WCAG criteria need to be checked manually.
Items that need to be tested manually via a holistic testing process include testing for proper semantic structure, link labeling, adequacy of alternate text, form fields, and table structure among other items.
It is also important to know that font attributes in PDF documents are not supported by the PDF tagging structure and hence they are not communicated to screen readers. These situations will not be flagged by the Accessibility Checker and will also need to be inspected on a case-by-case basis. To make documents accessible that use these attributes, individuals responsible for remediating PDFs need to determine the type of attribute and whether they simply impact one letter or word or a group of words, and then make this content accessible. It is also helpful to develop a knowledge of what characters screen readers can and cannot access effectively and design documents accordingly.
Finally, no holistic testing of PDF documents would be complete without testing with assistive technology. We will review tips to test the accessibility of documents with the JAWS screen reader as well as testing for keyboard access.
Developing a better understanding of how assistive technology users access your digital content as well as how to interpret the WCAG requirements, document authors can increase the accessibility of their documents and ensure that their messages are communicated to the widest possible audience.
- Higher Education
- Information & Communications Technology
- Healthcare & Rehabilitation
- Media & Publishing
- Audience Level
- Session Summary (Abstract)
Many people do not test PDF documents adequately to ensure compliance. This presentation will demonstrate the steps required to ensure PDF compliance via a holistic testing process that includes automated and manual testing processes. Both simple and complex documents will be reviewed, as well as how to test special characters.
- Session Type
- Digital Accessibility
- Employment & Workplace
- Evaluation & Remediation
- Information & Communications Technology (ICT)
- Michael Parker
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