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Acrobat Tech Talk: Making PDF files comply with Section 508 12/0/09

Today's webinar drove home the point that making a PDF accessible goes beyond clicking Adobe's built-in Accessibility Checker. To effectively use screen readers and other assistive devices, the structure and reading order of a document has to be be logical ordered and explicitly defined.

The View tags panel displays each html structure tag - line breaks, column breaks, table headers, row and cells and images in the document. "Walk the tag list", one tag after the other, observing which text or image element highlights. This check to see if the assistive device will bring the right information to the listener in the right order.

It's easy to THINK your document is accessible when it's not because:
  • the "Accessiblity checker" will report missing alt (explanatory) tags, but not faulty tagging.
  • the View > "Read out loud" feature is not a screen reader, so it can't read structures such as tables. This feature does not satisfy 508 requirements for accessibility.
  • Word's paragraph tags don't break the text blocks into elements and can be misread.
So walk down the tag tree checking each element, correcting order and structure as you need to. Notes are in the share folder VSDL share folder - Webinars/AccessiblePDF_091209.pdf Webinar archive: https://admin.adobe.acrobat.com/_a200985228/p45245327/ I logged in as an AcrobatUsers.com member so I don't know if it requires a password. But, it's worth the free membership if you're interested in Acrobat . Coming up next - Talking to 3D and Flash with Acrobat JavaScript huh?


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