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Re: clarification please -> PDF/UA


From: Jonathan Avila
Date: Feb 26, 2015 5:44AM

Ø PDF/UA for sure is a higher standard than anything one could derive from WCAG when thinking about how to make PDFs accessible.

Unfortunately I have to disagree with part of that comment. I think PDF/UA is great but it is not a replacement to WCAG and I will be commenting on that to the US Access Board.

For example, take color and contrast. I have included a snippet below from Matterhorn that talks about PDF/UA 7.1.

04-001 Information is conveyed by contrast, color, format or layout, or some combination thereof but the content is not tagged to reflect all meaning conveyed by the use of contrast, color, format or layout, or some combination thereof.

Nothing in the above requires that alternatives to color be visible to people who are colorblind - only that alternatives be available in the tags structure.

Nothing in the above requires that sufficient contrast be used in the document content - only that contrast isn't used to convey meaning.

There are also similar notes about use of sound:

All information conveyed with sound should also be available without sound.

In my opinion the above should needs to be a must.

Also you'll find nothing mentioned about the PDF containing closed captions or audio description when multimedia is present.

So, while PDF/UA is important it only gets you part of the way to WCAG conformance. - you still need WCAG.

On a related note, I have used the axesPDF QuickFix program and I've found it to be very helpful in fixing documents that had corrupted tag structures. So, for anyone who has tagged a 100 page PDF only to find that the tag structure is corrupt and suddenly you can't tag content properly this tool can be invaluable. While there may be other products that do this some tool manufacturers won't sell to others they see as competition so it's great to have several choices like QuickFix on the market.



Jonathan Avila

Chief Accessibility Officer



703-637-8957 (o)

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-----Original Message-----
From: <EMAIL REMOVED> [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Olaf Drümmer
Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2015 5:04 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] clarification please -> PDF/UA

On 25 Feb 2015, at 21:27, John E Brandt < <EMAIL REMOVED> <mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> >> wrote:

> Apparently the PDF/UA is a "higher" -

> and perhaps unattainable standard. Clearly I can't figure out a way to

> meet this standard with any of the tools I have

PDF/UA for sure is a higher standard than anything one could derive from WCAG when thinking about how to make PDFs accessible.

But PDF/UA is also a much more concise standard than what can be found regarding accessible PDF in WCAG. The main consequence here for software developers actually is that all in all it becomes substantially easier in the long run to develop software that supports accessible PDF (as defined by PDF/UA) - because it is easier to implement (and market) software against clear rules as opposed to having to do the same against fuzzy rules. I can at least claim this for my own company: we would never have considered to develop any PDF creation of fixing tool for conformance with WCAG's take on accessible PDF - it's just too fuzzy. Already before PDF/UA became final and published, we started development of a tool that helps create PDF/UA conforming accessible PDF documents (now commercially available for over two years). We also created a free of charge tool that helps validate PDF/UA files (especially when it comes to assessing semantic aspects). Furthermore we co-sponsored the development

of a free of charge PDF/UA syntax checker and also co-sponsored PDF/UA specific extensions to a free of charge screen reader. All this was only possible on the background of a well defined, clear cut ISO standard. It would not have have been viable without it.

Speaking of tools (and trying to not make this look like a sales pitch) let me provide the following list of tools that help you create PDF/UA, fix PDFs to make them conform with PDF/UA, tools that let you consume PDF/UA (leveraging PDF/UA specific aspects), and tools that help you assess conformance with PDF/UA.

Create PDF/UA:

- axesPDF for Word (still in [free of charge] beta, but expected to be released in the coming months)

- CommonLook Office

- axaio MadeToTag for InDesign

Fix (tagged) PDF to become PDF/UA conforming:

- axesPDF QuickFix

- CommonLook PDF Global Access

Consume PDF/UA:

- NVDA (screenreader) [free of charge]

- VIP PDF Reader (reader for low vision users) [free of charge]

Validate PDF/UA:

- PAC 2 (PDF Accessibility Checker version 2) [free of charge]

- callas pdfGoHTML [free of charge]


PS: My views about PDF/UA might be biased, I belong to the group of ISO subject matter experts who developed the PDF/UA standard, I have two companies currently developing and selling tools in the area of PDF/UA, and I am also the chairman of the PDF Association, a trade association with a focus on PDF technology actively promoting adoption of PDF/UA. I have been involved in a similar fashion in the development of PDF/X for the printing industry, and PDF/A for the document management and archival industry. PDF/X and PDF/A have become extremely successful, and it is my personal goal to make PDF/UA at least as successful as PDF/X and PDF/UA. I believe that standards can only become successful if they are useful to a wide audience, and I am absolutely sure that PDF/UA is by far the most useful approach when it comes to ensuring accessibility of PDF documents, and making wide availability of accessible PDF a reality.