Portable Document Format, also known as PDF, is one of the most popular digital formats out there that supports all types of documents. From guides to invoices, e-books, applications, statements, and more, PDFs are very common and used by the general public. PDF remediation helps those online who are disabled to read them properly.
However, these documents are not accessed in the same way by every user. For example, users with vision impairments (or other disabilities) might not find them accessible enough or optimized for their screen readers. As per the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), PDFs hosted on a website or any other digital medium that are not accessible to all impose risks of accessibility-related lawsuits. This is of utmost importance to all, and especially organizations working in government, healthcare, finance/banking, and education.
The term “PDF remediation” is unknown to many people. However, in the world of assistive technology, it is very common. Just like accessible HTML content, PDF document accessibility plays a vital role in the overall accessibility of a website.
What Is PDF Remediation?
Remediation is a vital part of PDF accessibility in general. Every PDF document that is remediated can be used by a larger group of people, not to mention that such formats make the text, images, lists, links, and tables cleaner and more organized. Also, a structure like this can help a website rank higher, improving its search engine optimization (SEO) performance.
The biggest benefit when it comes to document remediation is to ensure that everything looks the same online as it does in print. Whether it’s a desktop or a mobile device, Mac or Windows, an accessible PDF needs to be read (no matter what assistive technologies were used) and information should be presented accurately to the reader.
What Is PDF Tagging?
Essentially, PDF remediation is the process of “tagging” digital elements of PDF documents so that they can be read using assistive technology. The “tags” here identify all elements in place and inform the technology about the right order in which they need to be read.
Each of these digital tags identifies the type of content, storing some attributes related to it. Also, tags are used to arrange the document in a hierarchical structure, adding some order of the content (for example, organizing the headings, paragraphs, lists, images, tables, and footnotes in a PDF file).
Even though tagging is critical to the PDF format adjustments, there is more to do than just add tags to make a PDF document accessible. Below, we are giving answers on some of the common questions related to this subject.
What Needs To Be Remediated So That The Document Is Read By Assistive Technology?
Nowadays, there are two main ways to repair a PDF document and make it accessible:
- Remediate it yourself using a suite of accessibility tools or software
- Have the document remediated by a professional
If you don’t know how to remediate a PDF, you should choose the second option and have professional PDF remediators do it for you. There are plenty of PDF remediation services that create accessible PDFs. Essentially, these services take the electronic document (PDF) and review it page by page, seeing what needs to be done for maximum document remediation.
Some of the key parts in document accessibility focus on adapting the color contrast, changing the reading order, altering the heading and table structure, adding alternative text, and more.
PDF Accessibility Requirements (Section 508)
As we said above, some users find it hard to interact with PDF files that are not tagged. The current PDF accessibility requirements and standards include a variety of points that apply to PDF files specifically.
However, there is no set of compliance requirements that are defined by the U.S. Access Board, which is why many conform to the Section 508 accessibility requirements.
Is There A Way To Automate PDF Remediation?
PDF accessibility remediation requires manual labor. It takes a lot of work in ensuring an accurate tag structure. Software like the Adobe Acrobat DC and some of its features can be of great help when starting the process, but only as a start. Accessible documents need fixes in the color contrast, reading order, alternative text, as well as both manual and automatic testing to ensure that everything is as per the latest accessibility standards.
Which Formats And PDF Documents Can You Make Accessible?
The most common formats that you can make accessible include PDF documents, as well as Microsoft Office documents such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, as well as Publisher. Documents provided in their original format offer the fastest and most accurate remediation.
If your documents are scanned, they are viewed as scanned images and are not accessible. There are ways to use some object recognition tools to recognize the text and add a tagging structure. However, most of the time, every scanned document will need to be created again from scratch.
The Process Of Remediating A PDF Document
Here are some of the basic steps that are important when remediation is done for document accessibility:
- Tags are added to the file using the standard version of Adobe Acrobat
- Each page is validated against the final PDF document checklist
- Any items that are not in compliance are remediated, and any remediation items are noted in the remediation report
- Pages are again validated
- A copy of the document is saved to the workflow infrastructure
There are a lot of resources on the Web about accessibility, tagged PDFs, and many videos that can help you with testing. The bottom line is that besides the government regulations and ADA standards, every user should have equal access to documents online. So, make sure your digital PDFs are created and remediated to be accessed by every screen-reader and are in full compliance with the latest regulations.
If you are in need of expert PDF remediation services, you are on the right website. Our team is skilled in web accessibility and can help you achieve the best results. Contact our team of experts and learn more about our remediation service.
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The ADA prohibits any private businesses that provide goods or services to the public, referred to as “public accommodations,” from discriminating against those with disabilities. Federal courts have ruled that the ADA includes websites in the definition of public accommodation. As such, websites must offer auxiliary aids and services to low-vision, hearing-impaired, and physically disabled persons, in the same way a business facility must offer wheelchair ramps, braille signage, and sign language interpreters, among other forms of assistance.
All websites must be properly coded for use by electronic screen readers that read aloud to sight-impaired users the visual elements of a webpage. Additionally, all live and pre-recorded audio content must have synchronous captioning for hearing-impaired users.
Websites must accommodate hundreds of keyboard combinations, such as Ctrl + P to print, that people with disabilities depend on to navigate the Internet.
Litigation continues to increase substantially. All business and governmental entities are potential targets for lawsuits and demand letters. Recent actions by the Department of Justice targeting businesses with inaccessible websites will likely create a dramatic increase of litigation risk.
Big box retailer Target Corp. was ordered to pay $6 million – plus $3.7 million more in legal costs – to settle a landmark class action suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind. Other recent defendants in these cases have included McDonald’s, Carnival Cruise Lines, Netflix, Harvard University, Foot Locker, and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Along with these large companies, thousands of small businesses have been subject to ADA website litigation.
Defendants in ADA lawsuits typically pay plaintiff's legal fees, their own legal fees for defending the litigation, and potential additional costs. In all, the average cost can range from tens of thousands of dollars, to above six figures. There are also high intangible costs, such as added stress, time and human capital, as well as reputational damage. Furthermore, if the remediation is incomplete, copycat suits and serial filers can follow, meaning double or triple the outlay. It's vital to implement a long-term strategy for ensuring your website is accessible and legally compliant.