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PDF - a look under the covers


From: Bourne, Sarah (MASSIT)
Date: Feb 21, 2017 1:11PM

In my efforts to know everything about everything, I have found myself frustrated trying to grok PDF accessibility. I would kind of sort of get the gist of something, and then discover I had managed to delete all of the content when I thought I was just changing the order.
Jon Metz has just posted a great piece on the Paciello Group blog: An overview of PDF inaccessibility https://www.paciellogroup.com/blog/2017/02/pdf-inaccessibility/
I needed to put on my thinking cap to read this one - it's a bit of a deep dive into how PDFs are put together. Most useful to me was the explanation that PDF is a "page description" format - it describes the output in an ink-on-paper context. Tags are used to also include and identify semantic content and the logical structure, but as an addition rather than the core model as in Word and HTML.
I'm not sure it will help me figure out exactly how I managed to wreck the next PDF I try to fix, but at least I know why it doesn't work the same as Word or HTML.
Sarah E. Bourne
Director of IT Accessibility, MassIT
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
1 Ashburton Pl. rm 811 Boston MA 02108