Level Access Accessibility Consultant James Thompson hosted the third of an eight-part webinar series on PDF Accessibility Basics last Thursday: Metadata, Reading Order, and Links. There were many questions during the webinar that we did not have time to address, but captured them all and have answered 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: Metadata, Reading Order, and Links Webinar Resources.
Q: What causes empty tags to show up in the reading order?
A: Empty tags can appear when a space or other blank character is picked up by Acrobat’s OCR, when tags are improperly deleted, or something goes wrong in Acrobat.
Q: In the example document, the tag tree in the document is in the correct reading order but it’s scrambled in the tag tree
A: That is correct. The idea is to drag the tags in the tag tree into the proper order so that it will be read correctly by the screen reader. Then use the order panel (may need to be added to the navigation pane) to drag the numbers to their proper order.
Q: I tried the sample logical reading order and followed presenter. Mine still came up with nesting element failures
A: The sample files are meant to demonstrate a particular step in the process of making a document accessible and not the full process. That said, I may have broken something when setting up the file for the demo.
Q: Okay, so do you have to do all this while the TURO is open? Is that the key?
A: I like to leave the TURO panel open, but it is not necessary.
Q: What does OBJR stand for?
A: Technically, it stands for OBJect Reference, but it is basically the code that allows a link to act like a link instead of normal text.
Q: When converting links over to PDF the tag tree has path in what does that mean?
A: Path is used when Acrobat doesn’t know what to do with a character, typically the underline, it can be ignored as it won’t be read.
Q: Does using the Autotag feature multiple times mess with the underlying structure of the document? I think it introduced errors within a table when I used it.
A: It can, yes. In the demonstration I was using it because I knew that it would produce the specific effect of tagging the link incorrectly and showing how to fix it.
Q: Is there a way to edit/fix incorrect OCR where the text appears in the tags tree? Or is there a different place to go to edit that text?
A: You can follow the steps in this Adobe Blog https://blogs.adobe.com/documentcloud/hidden-gems-in-acrobat-dc-how-to-optimize-hidden-ocr-text/
Q: what if the document is already tagged but there is an issue with link tags? how do you just fix them?
A: It depends on what the problem is but if the tag is incorrect you can change the tag to a link and then use Find… in the context menu (right click or Shift-F10), select Unmarked Links from the dialog dropdown, Find, and then Tag Element to add the OBJR tag.
Q: When path shows up in tag panel with links can that be deleted?
A: Path appears when Acrobat thinks something may be text but is not sure. It could be just an artifact or it can be text. I would be wary about deleting Paths and check to make sure the words are all read with a screen reader.
Q: How often do you all have to save, close, and reopen a PDF in order to see changes?
A: Before Acrobat DC the mantra was save as a new file after each page. With the introduction of the undo it is not as important but I would still recommend saving as a new file before and after any complicated page. That said if you save, close out the product completely, and reopen it you will see the file the way the client will see it.
Q: Why do you want it to be an unmarked link?
A: The dialog is for finding untagged elements so you select Unmarked Link in the Search dropdown to find link elements that lack their object reference (OBJR) to be able to add it.
Q: Do you have any step by step written directions on how to tag links?
A: As was pointed out in the chat the VA (Section508 VA site) has a great step by step but is a little dated. Adobe recommends using the “Create Link” option which can be found by selecting the link and opening its context menu (Right click or Shift-F10) but it doesn’t always work.
Q: This is hard to follow, as I am using Adobe Acrobat Pro, not Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. Do you happen to know the main differences between the two? For example, my TURO tool, it doesn’t look like yours. And I do not see Edit Links, etc.
A: In Acrobat Pro XI instead of Edit PDF you would use the Content Editing tool and select Add or Edit Link. Also, to activate the TURO panel in Acrobat Pro XI, in the Accessibility tool you would activate Touch Up Reading Order. There are some major backend differences between Acrobat Pro XI and Acrobat DC and a few visual ones but most of the functionality on the user side is similar but has different names. Of note, Acrobat DC allows one to undo tagging and through preflight add metadata for PDF/UA compliance which cannot be done in Acrobat Pro XI.