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Re: PDF column tag


From: Karen McCall
Date: Jul 25, 2022 7:40AM

I agree with Bevi...avoid at all costs using the Read Out Loud "tool" in Acrobat or Reader. It is crap and we've been asking Adobe to make it a full screen reader since Acrobat 6, the version after it was introduced.

If you use the Column tool in Word (Layout Ribbon, Columns or Alt P, J) the tags will be correct in the tags tree. I use columns, both newspaper and parallel all the time. I am a person who uses a screen reader.

You would use a combination of section breaks and column breaks for some layouts using parallel columns but most of this is done automatically in Word as you design the layout and use Columns. I demonstrate this technique in my Word training. You can have a heading on the left and the associated content on the right, halfway down the page you can have an accessible sidebar with its associated text on the right.

You can check the "reading order" of columns in Word by switching to Draft view (Alt + W, E) which displays the text in a single column illustrating how the screen reader would read the text. This is not a screen reader specific view, it is a Draft, minimal view of the document contents.

PowerPoint has a Content placeholder option to put the contents of a placeholder in columns and this also translates to a correctly tagged (list tags) in PDF. Not an option I'd recommend for a slide with a lot of content but it is an option to display a list in a different, maybe more visual yet accessible manner.

Cheers, Karen

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Sent: Monday, July 25, 2022 2:10 AM
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Subject: Re: [WebAIM] PDF column tag

You're describing the reading order of the document, and that is controlled in two areas of the PDF:

1: The primary reading order is the Tag Tree. All PDF/UA compliant assistive technologies should read (or process) the content in the order it appears in the Tags Tree. So check the tag tree.

2: The Order panel is used by some assistive technologies and it, too, should be in a logical order. Hopefully it matches the Tag Tree reading order, but that's not possible in some visual designs so make it match as closely as possible.

Learn more about the 4 reading orders in PDFs at https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fpubcom.com%2Fblog%2F2020_08-18_ReadingOrder%2Freading-orders.shtml&amp;data%7C01%7C%7C217e0e3461c6462bffbc08da6e0458d0%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637943262219042469%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&amp;sdata=S%2BElPsCgE1Z9zkY784A%2B8dsffsfI%2FBMWLI6vMij0sHI%3D&amp;reserved=0

All of these reading orders are created based on how the original source document was created. So if you learn how to use Word, PowerPoint, and Adobe InDesign correctly, you shouldn't have reading order problems.

Reading across the columns, as Sean describes, can also be a problem with the screen reader or text-to-speech technology, not the PDF. Cheaper or older assistive technologies often can't correctly interpret a PDF correctly.

One key utility is Acrobat's built in Read Out Loud, which is an antiquated piece of crap programming. We do not recommend wasting any time using it to test PDFs for accessibility compliance - you'll only get false positives and false negatives. Test with a real screen reader such as NVDA or JAWS.

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PubCom: Technologists for Accessible Design + Publishing consulting * training * development * design * sec. 508 services Upcoming classes at https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pubcom.com%2Fclasses&amp;data%7C01%7C%7C217e0e3461c6462bffbc08da6e0458d0%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637943262219042469%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&amp;sdata=NsS%2BGF%2ByhgvkRg7jKfy6qPZIhWTpfUAzHeDHWdGZRuI%3D&amp;reserved=0
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From: WebAIM-Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> > On Behalf Of Murphy, Sean via WebAIM-Forum
Sent: Monday, July 25, 2022 12:47 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Cc: Murphy, Sean < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Subject: [WebAIM] PDF column tag


When a document is using newspaper column style or has content in two columns. Does PDF have a column tag? If not, how do you fix the reading order for columns so the screen reader reads column 1, then column 2, etc. If someone can provide an example of the tagging.

Currently it is being done in a Table. This document is a template created by java and we require the right tags to give to the developers. I have looked up some references and couldn't find the info.

Sean Murphy

Sean Murphy | Senior Digital System specialist (Accessibility) Telstra Digital Channels | Digital Systems
Mobile: 0405 129 739 | Desk: (02) 9866-7917

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