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Microsoft Word Accessibility Series: Conversion to PDF Q&A and Webinar Resources

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MS Word and other document iconsLast week, Professional Development Manager Erica Zelmanowicz wrapped up a three-part webinar series on Microsoft Word Accessibility Basics, this one covering Conversion to PDF. There were so many questions during the webinar that we unfortunately did not have time to address.  Fortunately, we captured the questions from the presentation and answer them in this post which we hope you’ll find useful.

For more information on this topic, you can access the webinar slides, transcript, and recorded presentation here: Microsoft Word Accessibility: Conversion to PDF Webinar Resources.

And if you haven’t already, check out the resources for our InDesign Accessibility Basics Series today!

Webinar Q&A

Q: Tables: It seems like PDFs from Word don’t have to identify/read the heading with the cell like HTML. Example: for an HTML birthday table for Bob & Sue, when Bob’s birthday is read the cell needs to read the heading of “birthday” and then the “date.” I have not seen a way to configure this is Word.

A: A simple table can easily be created in Word. Ensure that you are using the Insert table feature. When you set up your table in word, ensure that “repeat header row” in the Layout tab is checked off and “header row” is checked off in the Design tab. A simple table like this, using the most up to date version of word and acrobat should convert table headings to TH tags.

Q: So, the Title style is different than the title in metadata?

A: Yes, the Title of the document is the name given to the entire document and will be read out when the user opens the document or when he/she wants to read the title (using a keyboard shortcut). Try to avoid using the “Title” style because it will be tagged as a P tag (paragraph) in your PDF. Use headings instead.

Q: Can you put text and images into the header and footer in Word? Will these be read by a screen reader after conversion to PDF?

A: Headers and Footers will be converted as ARTIFACTS in the PDF. Artifacts will be ignored by screen readers.

Q: Why do some large documents say “Unable to run Accessibility Checker” in Word?

A: documents with .doc extension cannot run an accessibility check. Convert to .docx and check again. Also documents in protected view cannot be checked for accessibility.

Q: Will all of these instructions work when creating a Word “Fill in” Template?

A: Typically you would want to create your fillable fields in Acrobat. The keyboard support for form fields in Word is limited and can cause some reading order issues. All of the concepts would still apply however.

Q: Is the Adobe PDF plug-in free? 

A: You have to have Adobe Acrobat installed

Q: Would you show again how you added Alt text to pictures/images?

A: Select the image, right click, format picture, select

Q: In Adobe Acrobat – how do you display tags?

A: The Navigating Pane is on the left hand side in Adobe Acrobat Pro. If it is collapsed, you will see a little arrow that indicates this. You can click on the arrow to expand the section. Right click on the Navigation Pane and select Tags.

Q: Any suggestions for making a PDF/UA document fully pass the ‘results’?

A: Create the most accessible version of the document in the native format (word, inDesign, etc.), and convert to PDF.

Q: Can there be more than one data table on a page?

A: Yes

Q: Did you say that anchored images are okay to have for accessibility purposes? So they do not actually have to be inline images in all cases?

A: You can anchor images as long as you are anchoring them in the location you want them to be read. This is preferred for images that are not inline.

Q: Where is the accessibility checker in Acrobat?

A: In Acrobat DC, select Accessibility, then Full Check (I will be reviewing this in my PDF Webinar).

Q: When choosing conversion option, what version of Acrobat should I pick?

A: Acrobat Pro DC is the most up to date. You should try to use the most up to date versions of all the products because of the support for accessibility.

Q: What about complex tables?

A: If possible, split complex tables into simple tables. When you convert a complex table to PDF format from Word, the relationship between table headings and cells is not identified.

Q: If a fully accessible DOC is converted to PDf do we still have to work in creating tags?

A: There is always going to be some level of manual inspection and tagging, but if you can create an accessible document in Word, the level of effort for tagging in your PDF is lower.

Q: I have not found a way to adequately markup complex tables in either word or Acrobat

A: You can do this in Acrobat, but it requires a lot of manual tagging. The recommendation would be to split tables up into simple tables. Attend our PDF webinars to learn about simple and complex table tagging.

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