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Creating Good PDFs/ Avoiding Bad PDFs

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Creating Good PDFs/ Avoiding Bad PDFs

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  1. Creating Good PDFs/ Avoiding Bad PDFs Todd Weissenberger Web Accessibility Coordinator University of Iowa

  2. Good PDFs vs. Bad PDFs

  3. Good PDFs vs. Bad PDFs Good PDFs… Bad PDFs… • Good PDFS • …come from good source documents • …are tagged for structure • …include text alternatives for pictures, charts, and other non-text elements • …are easy to navigate by using headings and bookmarks • Bad PDFS • …are flat images, often from a scanner • …lack tags and structure • …present important non-text elements without any text equivalents • …are hard to navigate because they have no headings or bookmarks

  4. Common mistakes in PDF • Publishing flat, image-only files • Acrobat OCR can expose the underlying text • Designing difficult navigability • Add tags, headings and bookmarks • Neglecting ALT text • Alternative text adds context to your graphics • Publishing the wrong reading order • Check your reading order, and clean it up as necessary • Downgrading accessibility • Using PDF in lieu of a more accessible file format option

  5. Other limitations of PDF • Mobile viewing • Documents may not resize or reflow correctly for mobile users • Multimedia • Multimedia elements are not captioned or keyboard-operable • Combined documents may present barriers • Keep elements separate where possible: content/interactive/media

  6. Check your source Word Excel PowerPoint InDesign HTML Server/run-time The more accessible the source document, the better the PDF.

  7. Tagged documents Tags provide semantic and structural definition for document elements (list, links, headings, tables) Tags can carry over from source documents—build ‘em in Tags may be applied retroactively (e.g., in Acrobat)

  8. ALT Text • ALT text should reflect the content and the purpose of the content it replaces • For complex graphics (e.g., graphs and charts), ALT text may point to a longer description at another location • ALT text may be addressed in the source document, but Acrobat also has tools to provide ALT text

  9. PDF Forms (if you must…) • Avoid if at all possible • Qualtrics, UI Workflow, HTML forms • Cross-platform issues • Ease of use on mobile devices • Start with a tagged base document, and add form fields in Acrobat • Add meaningful labels • Group related form controls, such as radio buttons • Make sure tab order reflects form structure • , back of envelope

  10. Multimedia Utterly inaccessible Avoid at all costs No closed captioning option No keyboard operable player Avoid at all costs Utterly inaccessible

  11. Demos

  12. PDF from external source: Journal Scan External PDFs may be flat, and thus inaccessible Check with website, JSTOR, library for text version Beware of “text” PDFs from third-party sources What about government/non-editable PDF? Demo: Search e-Journals via UI Libraries InfoLink

  13. PDF from source document: Word

  14. PDF from source document: Excel

  15. Forms: Go Qualtrics! More control types Preset control groups Results and reporting Branching Accessible options

  16. Bottom Line Semantics Headings Alternative Text Tables, Lists, Links No forms External options when necessary Reading Order

  17. Questions?