Do you own a website? If yes, you may already be aware any PDF documents linked to it must adhere to the PDF ADA compliance when it comes to accessibility issues. However, how can you tell if your documents are compliant?
This blog post is written to answer all your questions regarding how to make a PDF ADA compliant. Keep reading.
What is ADA Compliance?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design are referred to as ADA compliance. According to this act, all electronic information and technology, including your website, must be usable by people with impairments.
How is ADA Compliance Related to PDF Accessibility?
A PDF formatted or altered to comply with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) criteria is said to be ADA compliant. This type of PDF is useful to individuals with visual and cognitive impairments who require assistive technology like a screen reader to read or process the information in the PDF.
Because viewers cannot change PDF files while maintaining formatting, many websites host PDF files. PDFs may be more practical, but many assistive technology users cannot access them. However, it is notable that when you make a PDF accessible, it becomes simpler for every user, irrespective of the fact that they need assistive technology or not.
Discrimination is when a website presents information that is only available to some users and not to others. If your PDF documents are not accessible, your website is still not accessible and may be the target of legal action, even if the rest of it is.
How to Make a PDF ADA Compliant?
You may design a digital experience that users of all abilities can access by being mindful of the accessibility challenges that disabled users confront and making use of the compliance tools at your disposal. Here are 7 critical factors to keep in mind for making PDF ADA compliant.
Searchable TextA graphic designer may develop or export a PDF in such a way that it would appear to have no text at all when run through accessibility tools. This makes it impossible for users who need to use searchable text on a PDF.
The searchable content in a PDF that you can no longer change can be tricky to replace. Still, by including alternative text (alt-text), you can incorporate the right, accessibility-friendly text.
Images with Alt TextAlternative text, also known as alt text, is the covert text used to explain an image to someone who is blind. This is beneficial for those with visual impairments who use screen reader software to access the internet. If you are unable to make changes to your current PDFs on the source document, adding alt text is an excellent alternative.
Added TagsTags are crucial for ensuring that PDFs are accessible to users of screen readers and other accessibility tools. Titles, subtitles, paragraphs, bullet points, lists, etc., should all be included in PDF tags. Your PDFs won’t be easy for a person to navigate if you don’t add tags, but you’ll still comply with ADA. However, you must add tags for everyone’s convenience.
Logical Order in TablesAlthough adding tables in your PDF may be self-explanatory and attractive, people with disabilities may not always be able to use them. Assistive technology must be able to accurately read data tables, so headers must be defined and their job (column or row) allocated. Additionally, your table should be logically arranged from left to right.
Use of ColorEach material in your document should rely on something other than color to be understood. Most accessibility technologies, such as screen readers, will not be able to recognize this type of information if you refer to a chart on your PDF with a statement that says, “See red chart.” In this case, you will ultimately lose access to that piece of content.
Background Images or WatermarksA lack of semantic structure in the material may be concealed by a picture, video, or audio background, which is why the new accessibility guideline “highly opposes” them for any web page or PDF content. As a result, text that says “hello world” should be seen without any visual distractions, such as images or movies above it.
Many users, including those who rely on screen readers, can’t see this type of layout effectively. This design decision reduces the usability and accessibility of online pages.
BookmarksFor documents over 9 pages, having bookmarks can save time and energy for users with visual and cognitive impairments by helping them find valuable information more easily. A PDF is not a word processor which automatically organizes your documents.
Thus bookmarks are needed for a reader to quickly navigate to points of interest within a PDF by linking to a specific page and allowing access to that page.
ADA compliance and PDF accessibility are important considerations for any organization. By following the guidelines and recommendations outlined in this article, you can ensure that your organization is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and that your PDF documents are accessible to all users.
Emilie Brown works with the Digital Marketing team at PREP, an AI-based remediation software that enables businesses to create WCAG and ADA compliant PDFs in minutes. Her approach and methodology is simple, concise and to-the-point and connects with readers seeking for solution-driven content on topics related to accessibility and remediation. Apart from her time at work, she loves to spend time with her dog, volunteer and play her guitar.