Web Accessibility

PDF

Meeting WCAG 2.0

A To claim Single A conformance, all of your pages and documents must meet all Single A requirements for all content

A A To claim Double A, all of your pages and documents must meet all Single A and all Double A requirements

A A A To claim Triple A, all of your pages and documents must meet all Single A, Double A and Triple A requirements

About PDF

PDF (Portable Document Format) files usually present real text quite well (unless the PDF only contains scanned text), but the readability for assistive technology such as screen readers, may fail for more complex files. There are differences between screen readers in how they interpret PDF files, particularly forms. For example, checkboxes in a form may not be 'checkable', or may be identified as checked when they are not. Form fields may not be accessible at all. The main strength of PDF is its preservation of format for printing. The best solution for accessibility for everyone is to keep the PDF content simple and use the latest authoring software available.

Managing the accessibility of PDF files

Many UTAS sites use PDF, some containing many hundreds of files. It can be quite daunting wondering where to start. Look to review all files regularly, but start with the most used. Web Services can provide statistics to help you decide where to start.

Making new files

Does the information need to be in a PDF? If it does, present an alternative. Can it be done in HTML? The aim is to preserve the information for the user, not necessarily the appearance (particularly for people with visual impairments).

If the file will work best as PDF, you will need a PDF authoring tool to make some changes, or add some features in software such as WORD before you convert the document. Adobe Readers is only a reader so you will need an editor. The accessibility of PDF files has increased with later versions of software such as Adobe Acrobat Pro, so if possible, upgrade to the latest version of Acrobat Pro, which can be obtained through IT Services. The later versions of Acrobat Pro have a built-in accessibility checker, which will give you a report on the most serious issues.

The following tips and techniques rely on you having a PDF authoring tool.

Single A

Making PDF

If the PDF is the only source of information for a client who is parting with money or making an important decision such as enrolling in a course, provide an HTML alternative.

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission have provided an advisory note on PDF, to help you decide which is the best option. The Australian Government, which is mandating compliance with WCAG 2.0, also provides information on making PDF accessible.

Making the purpose of your PDF clear
File structure
Content
Images
Forms

Does the form need to be in PDF? HTML may be a better option. Contact Web & Learning Services to discuss any options.

However, to create more usable forms

Operating the PDF in a webpage

The UTAS Web Publishing Guidelines require that links to non-HTML files include the format and size in the link text, as this makes the link purpose clear

Double A

Making the PDF

If you have a scanned picture of text, this can be converted into text using Optical Character Recognition.

Making the purpose of your PDF clear
File structure
Operating the PDF in a webpage

No specific requirements

Triple A

Making the PDF

No specific requirements

Making the purpose of your PDF clear
Operating the PDF in a webpage

No specific requirements