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Re: Tagging PDFs with Acrobat

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From: Chagnon | PubCom
Date: Nov 28, 2016 10:19AM


You'll probably get quite a few opinions about this.
I'm going to take an analytical viewpoint, point by point.

1. The difference in the experience you had with the earlier and later PDFs could be due to the PDFs themselves, not necessarily the version of Acrobat you used to remediate them. The quality of the PDF (and therefore, how easy or difficult it is to tag it or remediate it into compliance) depends upon several factors:
-- How the document was constructed in the source program.
-- How it was converted to a PDF from the source file (example, using the Acrobat PDF Maker plug-in gives a different result than using File/Print To PDF).
-- The source program itself and its version (example, Word 2007 doesn't convert certain items correctly to PDF while 2013 and 2016 do).
-- The actual tool used to create the PDF from the source file.
-- The skill level of the person who creates the source file.
-- The skill level of the person who is checking and remediating the PDF file.

Summary: you're comparing apples and oranges, rather than comparing the files objectively. To see if Acrobat DC will give you better results, take the first PDFs you corrected in Acrobat X and recorrect them in Acrobat DC.

2. Fixing PDFs after they are made is generally a painful, time-consuming, and expensive method. Different software programs (and versions) have different tools that can make it less painful, less time-consuming, and less costly, but it's still painful, time-consuming, and costly. No one has yet invented a magic wand that fixes lousy PDFs.

So one strategy is to make better source documents, learn how to export an accessible PDF from the source file using the best tools, and then check and do minor fixes on the PDF. Less pain. Less time. And less money.

3. Adobe created the Acrobat PDF format 30 years ago. It's now in the public domain with an ISO standard so that anyone can create PDF tools to that standard. Also, Adobe is the key player in maintaining and developing the PDF ISO standard, and is also a key player in maintaining and developing our international accessibility standards, such as WCAG and PDF/UA.

Adobe is not a perfect company, but it is a good company and it's safe to assume that they know a lot about Acrobat, the PDF standard, and accessibility. There are only a handful of people in the world (not companies, but individuals) who can match that knowledge. Some of these people have companies that create competing PDF tools, good tools that we use in our shop.

But no company has created the magic wand to fix all PDFs quickly and easily. It still takes a human being to identify and fix some items.

4. Don't expect outdated software to do today's job. The standards themselves are being tweaked and revised. The software tools are being expanded and fleshed out. And the former bugs in our tools and software are being corrected.

Recommendation:
1. Update all your software, not just Acrobat but office and the Adobe Creative Suite. Acrobat DC has a better accessibility checker than previous versions, as well as some improved tools and an updated PDFMaker plug-in for MS Office.
2. Have whoever is giving you these untagged PDFs do a better job at their end. They need to learn to create a compliant source file and then export it for accessibility with tags.
3. If that's not possible, ask for the source file, fix it rather than the PDF, and then export it to an accessible PDF from the source program.
4. Finally, check and verify the PDF for compliance with Acrobat, PAC, or other tools.

--Bevi Chagnon

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Bevi Chagnon | www.PubCom.com
Technologists, Consultants, Trainers, Designers, and Developers
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-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Gillen, Lori

A month or two ago, I tagged a number of pdfs from within Acrobat X and it was a painful process with many errors that I couldn't resolve. More recently, I downloaded a trial version of Acrobat DC and was able to tag pdfs with no errors.
I am ready to purchase Acrobat DC but want some feedback from this group as to why I should or should not buy it.
Thank you,
Lori Gillen