WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Re: how to handle line numbers in legal documents


From: Duff Johnson
Date: Feb 22, 2011 8:27AM


Ah yes... the joys of line-numbered documents. We positively GROAN when we get these suckers in the door.

To answer the question: those line-numbers do indeed need to be tagged in the PDF. If they aren't tagged, the AT user won't have a clue as to which line they are reading.

Using a table is a viable approach... notwithstanding the pain & suffering required to do the work. Sadly, it's also the best approach at this time - better, in any event, than including the line-numbers in the tags for the paragraph text along with SPAN tags to indicate that these are line-numbers and not part of the content (which is the other approach).

In the (not too distant) future, ISO 32000-2 adds a "LineNum" standard structure type to PDF which is designed to accommodate this issue and make it easy for authoring application developers and AT developers alike to provide a solution to this (otherwise) very difficult problem.

Duff Johnson
Appligent Document Solutions
Web: http://www.appligent.com
Blog: http://www.appligent.com/talkingpdf
Tweets: http://www.twitter.com/duffjohnson

On Feb 22, 2011, at 10:02 AM, Langum, Michael J wrote:

> I have been asked to post a legal transcript. It has line numbers along the left side of that page. These were added using MS Word's "line number" tool, and they were converted to artifacts when the document was converted to PDF.
> My question is, since the line number artifacts will not be exposed to the screen reader, should this be considered accessible? If not, the only alternative I can think of is to manually re-write the WORD source document as a two column table.