PDF Document Accessibility – Q & A (Part 2)

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This blog is the second in a two-part series addressing questions from a webinar SSB presented with Adobe and FedInsider in January on PDF document accessibility.

Some relevant links:

Q: Can we use the Adobe Pro checker for other PDFs created by Word or LiveCycle?

A:  Word Yes, LiveCycle no.

Q: How does LiveCycle fit in? Is it considered a native application?

A: Yes, accessibility must be implemented in LiveCycle. LiveCycle documents that are dynamic XFA documents cannot have their tags updated in Acrobat.

Q: Can forms created in LiveCycle be edited with Acrobat Pro?

A: XFA form tags cannot be edited with Acrobat Pro.

Q: Can layout tables be used in an Acrobat document?

A: Generally layout tables should be avoided. Having the layout table in Acrobat would not be a technical violation as long as it does not use table header tags; however, the checker will still flag it. You can have the checker skip this check but the best option would be to simply remove the table tags in the Tags panel and have the list and image under a paragraph tag.

Q: While using the touch up reading order tool, the selected text vanishes entirely from the document. This has happened to me several times on different documents. Is there any way to deal with this issue?

A: We’ve seen this before and believe it is still “there” but being obscured. Our recommendation is to make sure that it appears in the correct order in the Order panel and the Tags panel. A check of the Content panel may also be useful to make sure it appears in the correct order there as well. Deletions in the Content panel will remove the context from the document, so be careful when making changes in that panel. Any artifacts that may be obscuring the text should appear prior in the Content panel to the text that needs to be displayed.

Q: In Acrobat X, I get errors related to artifacts. What is this and how can I fix it?

A: If you are referring to actionable content such as text of a link has been marked as an artifact, adding the text of the link back into the Tags panel by selecting it and choosing “Create tag from selection” while the link element is selected in the Tags panel should address the issue.

Q: What do you do to fix a problem when you try to tag some text and it disappears behind a background?

A: Ensure the order in the Content and Order panels is correct. Placing the artifact content before the visible content in the Content panel should address the issue. Layers can also be used to control this issue depending on what native format the document is in.

Q: What’s the best practice for repetitive footer/header content?

A: PDF/UA indicates that running headers and footers should be made artifacts. Generally speaking, the first occurrence of identical headers or footers should be tagged but the others not, as they interfere with reading. However, many documents have unique headers and footers and may contain different section or page numbers that do not match the actual page numbers. In these cases this information is a “must-have” for users and should be tagged and included in the appropriate location in the reading order. In some cases it may make sense to have footer information read at the top of a form such as the form number of a tax form.

Q: How do you tag a footnote?

A: There is no simple answer to this issue. The footnote number can be made a link, however, links cannot focus individual tags and thus focus only visually scrolls to the footnote with no focus for users of screen readers. This may be beneficial for users with cognitive and motor disabilities. Others advocate placing the text of the footnote as an “actual text” attribute of the footnote number causing it to be read in line with the text. This however can be distracting and disorienting to some screen readers users. Authors should weigh the merits of both approaches and other solutions.

Q: For mass produced electronic mailings, is there a way to tag each individual record heading at one time if all records are combined in one electronic file?

A: Various options are available for dynamically generated tagged documents from software. For example, Apache FOP can be used to create tagged documents.

Q: What is the formatting technique (in the source file or in Adobe) to get an acronym to be read as a word or to get it to be read as letters?

A: The letters could be placed with spaces in between them in the “actual text” property of the tag containing the text. For acronyms that are part of other content they would need to be split it into their own tag such as a span tag so the actual text does not obscure any text other than the acronym. This occurs because “actual text” can only be placed on a tag and not the text node within it. Use of the “actual text” property and not the “alternative text” property is recommended for text as this is more widely supported by different assistive technologies.

Q: What do you do with scanned documents?

A: Scanned documents can have optical character recognition (OCR) performed on them and be tagged automatically in Adobe Acrobat Professional. Additional work would likely be needed to tag different structures such as headings and lists and some work may need to be done correcting OCR mistakes using the “actual text” property of a tag. Reflow will generally not look very good as the characters will be squished and color replacement options will likely not work.

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