PDF Accessibility


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Neil King from Vision Australia presented on PDF accessibility at the Web Content Managers Forum in Melbourne - April 14, 2011

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  • PDF accessibility ongoing issue within Australia Internationally, apart from the Canadian Government no government makes specific requirements in relation to the use of PDF Centre for Inclusive Technology in Ireland – 2009 conducted an audit of a website where probably close to 99% of all the information it contained was in downloadable documents, mostly PDFs. These documents contained a lot of the stuff you'd usually find on a website – structured text, data tables, application forms, complex diagrams, graphs and other images. None of those we looked at were accessible = Is PDF accessibility more important than web accessibility?
  • PDF in a wider context: Web is changing. We are moving towards increased importance of the web to disseminate and communicate with our customers or citizens, and the emergence of non HTML technologies, new standards (WCAG 2.0 W3C) and the notion of a ‘web of things’ Web of things - Internet access will very likely become a commodity accessible from most real-world devices, whereby we can access the web and associated content on mobile devices, TV’s, domestic appliances (fridge – barcodes sensors – recipes) and wearable computers. Internationally, governments see the need to produce accessible information is even more critical – in Finland access to the web is a human right (Egypt we see the alternative where they shut the web down during the recent unrest) In 5 years time huge increase in the web population that requires the use of customisation of adaptive technologies to compensate for a natural decline in vision, hearing or mobility as we age. 50 something's of today are not going to just stop using the web or reading PDF files online because they are not accessible – they will demand access as a human right. Accessibility is not going away and Accessibility is not hindering development, it is ensuring that we can all effectively access and interact with information in an increasing number of formats and devices as we move forward. People accessing information on mobile phones – iPhone or Android mainstream users have emails, news on the web, reports or books in PDF read aloud using technology designed primarily for visually impaired people. If the PDF is not created to be accessible this will not work effectively
  • “ The power of the web is that it can be accessed by everyone, regardless of disability.” Source: Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web,
  • Web – Pages in HTML, same access requirements and interaction techniques used to interact with PDF documents
  • Since 2000, the AHRC has maintained a strong position on PDF Does not state what additional formats are – but does refer to an equivalent experience to that obtained via accessible HTML Commission will review the accessibility of PDF documents again in 2013, by which time it is expected that the provision, support, and utilisation of accessibility features will have improved.
  • Australian Government has supported position of AHRC PDF does not yet have approved Sufficient Techniques to claim WCAG 2.0 conformance, so it cannot be ‘relied upon’ in the provision of government information. An updated position on the use of PDF files on government websites with the release of new standards and guidelines PDF part of the wider NTS
  • Website Accessibility National Transition Strategy (NTS) released June 2010. Level A (Single A) by 31 December 2012 for all federal, state and territory websites Level AA (Double A) by 31 December 2014 for federal government websites (may be extended) Conformance is required for all internet, intranet and extranet site YES All files created since June 2010 need accessible alternative information that is still current important information (disability services V technical document for tree surgeons) NO All legacy documents Alternative format most suitable for intended use (Annual report - word, Bus timetable – HTML)
  • Many technologies present accessibility issues. The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) notes that PDF is the most common cause of accessibility complaints they receive Disability Discrimination Act: Advisory Notes recommend accessible alternatives be provided when PDF files are used BUT there have been technical advances in Portable Document Format and greater support for PDF by assistive technologies
  • Greater understanding of the way PDF files are used by people with a disability Establish the implications in using PDF files via various adaptive strategies by people with a disability - Technical and user-based evidence Inform the policy position regarding the acceptability of making information available in the PDF format
  • 80% of respondents do not support the use of PDF without accessible alternate format PDF use prolific and preferred format, even when not most appropriate Lack of awareness or consistency on how to author, create or test the accessibility of PDF files Perceived support for some assistive technologies nonexistent Users experience a high number of problems when using PDF files Design issues - Scanned images. Assistive technologies cannot read or extract the words; users cannot select, edit, resize, reflow text or change text and background colours. Workarounds involve additional software, time or effort Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software and possessing the skill to use it. Other workarounds included asking for assistance from a sighted colleague/friend or asking the organisation to provide the information in an alternative format. Participants reported that alternative methods often enable them to access the content, but require a level of expertise with additional software, more time and extra effort. The use of workarounds to access inaccessible PDF files results in a degraded experience when compared to accessing equivalent documents in HTML, RTF or Microsoft Word formats
  • Typical PDF to Word process – accuracy depends on quality of original image and editing is frequently required Do not use scanned images!! 1. iPhone OCR app for $24 2. New versions of Adobe Acrobat and Word make this easier (as do alternative software)
  • JAWS and ZoomText – free low cost options penetrating the market Support for PDF files was limited in earlier versions of AT’s Most vendors claimed to provide support or functionality in line with other formats More accessible PDF files are required before vendors justify further research and development time for PDF over other emerging technologies (ARIA and HTML 5) 33% of AT’s provided sufficient technical capability to interact with a PDF file JAWS (version 8 onward), was the only screen reader that successfully completed technical testing 66% of AT’s provided partially sufficient or not sufficient technical capability Adobe test suite had limitations in relation to all relevant WCAG 2.0 success criteria
  • Issues not supported by AT’s in PDF but are in HTML and other formats 1. Heading navigation – not supported 2 nd most common screen reader 2. Table navigation not supported all screen readers
  • Effectiveness: 1. 77% success rate for all tasks attempted - 90% for optimised and 60% for representative 2. People who are blind and use screen readers recorded a higher number of issues compared to all the other disability groups - 79% V 26% Efficiency: 1. Acceptance in relation to time taken to complete task was higher for the optimised documents 91% V 84% Satisfaction: 1. Users generally satisfied with optimised and would be very comfortable using similarly constructed PDF documents again 2. Less comfortable using representative, especially people who are blind using a screen reader
  • The design of the document Missing tags to identify elements such as lists, headings or header cells in a table, Issues to do with presentations such a spread design or multi column layout Problems with the reading order LACK of definition as to what comprises an accessible PDF document Standards or guidelines on how to create accessible PDF (WACG 2.0)
  • How far PDF accessibility has progressed and clearly identified where the shortfalls are
  • The specification will describe such components and the conditions governing their inclusion in a PDF file in order to be considered accessible for a particular document type.
  • The specification will describe such components and the conditions governing their inclusion in a PDF file in order to be considered accessible for a particular document type.
  • Few techniques related Adobe LiveCycle Designe
  • Questions over techniques based Adobe tools Complexity of techniques Indian conference - Accessible ACM Conference Paper – over 24 people in audience, web accessibility professionals created 4-10 page PDF document, all found it hard Not web developers that create PDF files, but content authors – Web Content Managers need to manage this. Training and start to create accessible PDF’s now. Be ready for when Government does endorse WCAG Techniques
  • An accessible raw source document can easily be converted into accessible HTML, Braille, audio and other formats
  • Position to be reviewed
  • Questions over techniques based Adobe tools Complexity of techniques Indian conference - Accessible ACM Conference Paper – over 24 people in audience, web accessibility professionals created 4-10 page PDF document, all found it hard Not web developers that create PDF files, but content authors – Web Content Managers need to manage this.
  • PDF Accessibility

    2. 2. Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunraven0/5451897212/sizes/l/in/photostream/
    3. 3. Agenda <ul><li>What is accessibility </li></ul><ul><li>PDF accessibility in Australia </li></ul><ul><li>How and why we came to this position </li></ul><ul><li>The way forward </li></ul><ul><li>Tips on creating accessible PDF files </li></ul>
    4. 4. What is Accessibility <ul><li>Enabling everyone to interact with information on the web (including PDF’s) regardless of their disability or specific access requirements </li></ul><ul><li>4 million people have a disability </li></ul><ul><li>Ageing population and workforce </li></ul>
    5. 6. Accessibility Approach <ul><li>Technical standards: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2 (WCAG 2.0) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adobe’s published characteristics of an accessible PDF document </li></ul></ul><ul><li>User Experience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>User-based evaluations </li></ul></ul>
    6. 7. Australian Human Rights Commission <ul><li>Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) position as of October 2010: </li></ul><ul><li>“ PDF cannot be regarded as a sufficiently accessible format to provide a user experience for a person with a disability that is equivalent to that available to a person without a disability… organisations that publish documents only in PDF risk complaint under the DDA unless they make the content available in at least one additional format and in a manner that incorporates principles of accessible document design”. </li></ul><ul><li>Source: www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/standards/WWW_3/www_3.html#pdf </li></ul>
    7. 8. Australian Government <ul><li>Australian Government position as of December 2010: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Until further data is available on the characteristics of an accessible PDF file and there are Sufficient Techniques available to support the conformance of the PDF technology to WCAG 2.0, the Australian Government position recommending that alternative file formats be provided whenever PDF files are used should remain unchanged”. </li></ul><ul><li>Source: http://www.finance.gov.au/publications/pdf-accessibility-study/1-exec_summary.html </li></ul>
    8. 9. National Transition Strategy <ul><li>What is accessibility </li></ul>
    9. 10. How We Arrived Here <ul><li>Many technologies present accessibility issues </li></ul><ul><li>PDF is the most common cause of accessibility complaints received by AHRC </li></ul><ul><li>Significant advances in accessibility support for PDF </li></ul>
    10. 11. Government Study <ul><li>The Australian Government’s study into the Accessibility of the Portable Document Format for people with a disability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How PDF files are used by people with a disability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Implications of using PDF files </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inform the policy position of Government and AHRC </li></ul></ul>
    11. 12. User Consultations <ul><li>To establish the user perspective when interacting with PDF files </li></ul><ul><ul><li>AGIMO public online accessibility consultation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3 focus groups with people who are blind or have low vision </li></ul></ul>
    12. 13. Workaround Process
    13. 14. Remove Workarounds <ul><li>Scan the document using as high a resolution as possible to improve the OCR results. performance. </li></ul><ul><li>Load the scanned document in Acrobat Acrobat Pro. Select Document > OCR Text Recognition > Recognize Text Using OCR... </li></ul><ul><li>In the next dialog, select the All Pages radio button under Pages (or Current Page if you are converting only one page), and then select OK. </li></ul><ul><li>Under the Settings list, select Edit. In the next dialog, select Formatted Text and Graphics in the PDF Output Style drop-down list. This is important for ensuring accessibility. </li></ul><ul><li>Depending on the resolution and how clear the text was, OCR converts images of words and characters to actual text. Text that Acrobat Pro does not recognize is listed as an &quot;OCR suspect,&quot; or text element that Acrobat suspects was not recognized correctly. </li></ul><ul><li>To fix the suspects, choose Document > OCR Text Recognition > Find First OCR Suspect. Acrobat Pro presents each suspect one at a time, which can be corrected using Acrobat Pro touchup tools. </li></ul><ul><li>Run Advanced > Accessibility > Add Tags to Document </li></ul><ul><li>Test for accessibility: Advanced > Accessibility > Full Check... </li></ul><ul><li>Source: www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WCAG20-TECHS/pdf.html#PDF1 </li></ul>
    14. 15. Technical Evaluations <ul><li>To identify the technical perspective in relation to assistive technologies and PDF </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Established most common assistive technologies (AT’s) used in Australia by people who are blind or have low vision </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Vendor support for AT’s and PDF </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WCAG 2.0 technical testing </li></ul></ul>
    15. 16. Technical Issues
    16. 17. User Evaluations <ul><li>Objective to identify the lived experience for people with a disability using a PDF file </li></ul><ul><ul><li>23 Participants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>8 PDF test documents (4 optimised) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Measure of effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Problems experienced by users </li></ul></ul>
    17. 18. Analysis of problems <ul><li>Not PDF format that was the issue, but three other factors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The way the document had been designed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of support of PDF by AT’s </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>User skill or experience using PDF and their AT’s </li></ul></ul>
    18. 19. Outcomes of Study <ul><li>AHRC and Australian Government do not consider PDF at present to be an accessibility supported technology </li></ul><ul><li>Findings from the study were positive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assistive technologies addressing issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adobe working to improve accessibility </li></ul></ul>
    19. 20. The Way Forward <ul><li>Draft ISO accessible PDF (PDF/UA) standard is out for comment till end of April </li></ul><ul><li>Adobe submitted 21 DRAFT Sufficient Techniques for PDF to W3C WCAG 2.0 </li></ul><ul><li>Source: http://drafts.bsigroup.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Source: www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WCAG20-TECHS/pdf.html#PDF1 </li></ul>
    20. 21. ISO 14289 - PDF/UA <ul><li>Draft ISO accessible PDF (PDF/UA) standard is out for comment till end of April </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not a techniques (how to) specification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Set of guidelines for creating specific accessible components (graphics, text, multimedia, form fields) in PDF </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Source: http://drafts.bsigroup.com/ </li></ul>
    21. 22. PDF Techniques for WCAG 2.0 <ul><li>Adobe submitted 21 DRAFT Sufficient Techniques for PDF to W3C </li></ul><ul><li>Majority of the techniques relate for Adobe Acrobat Pro </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Good tips for Word and OpenOffice accessibility </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Source: www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WCAG20-TECHS/pdf.html#PDF1 </li></ul>
    22. 23. What Next <ul><li>W3C have to review and approve techniques </li></ul><ul><li>Australian Government will assess the techniques once they have been formally accepted by the W3C against other issues uncovered in the PDF study – review position </li></ul>
    23. 24. Microsoft Word Techniques <ul><li>Always start with an accessible source document </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use true heading styles rather than formatting effects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide alternative text for images </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use sufficient colour contrast between background and text </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify the header row of tables </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid text boxes </li></ul></ul>
    24. 25. PDF Techniques <ul><li>PDF files should be made as accessible as possible (AHRC recommendations) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not scan and save as PDF </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The explicit specification of logical reading order </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provision of text descriptions for all meaningful images (Alt-text) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proper construction of tables using the appropriate markup tags </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The use of paragraph, heading, and list tags </li></ul></ul>© Vision Australia 2011 © Vision Australia 2011
    25. 26. Web Accessibility Team <ul><li>P: 1300 367 055 </li></ul><ul><li>E: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>W: www.visionaustralia.org.au/webaccess </li></ul><ul><li>Main Offices: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>346 Macaulay Road, Kensington Vic 3031 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4 Mitchell Street, Enfield NSW 2136 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kent Street, Woolloongabba Qld 4102 </li></ul></ul>