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Make Your PDF Documents Accessible

According to U.S. Census Bureau, 2005-2007 American Community Survey, 12.3% of U.S. populations aged between 16 and 64 are disabled. Primary conditions that can affect people accessing Web content include visual, hearing, physical, speech, cognitive and neurological disabilities, as well as aging-related conditions. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 suggests that making PDF documents accessible allows users with disabilities to understand and interact with content delivered, and gives them equal opportunities to enjoy your information and education programs published in PDF format. Improved accessibility will also increase usability and help other users such as older people with changing abilities due to aging.

I attended a PDF Accessibility Webinar (recording with printable presentation slides ) on June 17. The seminar covered how to create accessible PDF documents and forms using Adobe Acrobat Pro, as well as utilizing Microsoft Word; how to analyze existing PDF files and make them accessible; and how to add other interactive features to make your documents and forms more accessible. It provides useful and practical tips and techniques for making your PDF documents accessible.

Based on suggestions from HHS Testing Documents for Section 508 Compliance, a PDF document must meet the following criteria before it is accessible:

  1. Be properly tagged
  2. Have a logical reading and tab order
  3. Have alternative text for all images and objects
  4. Have a specified language (language it is written in)
  5. Have bookmarks linked to the sections of the document for files of 10 pages or more

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