On-Line Thesis Submissions http://www.ist.uwaterloo.ca/ew/ethesis

PDF Accessibility
Lisa Tomalty, IST
[email protected], x35873
Culture Change
When PDFs are not accessible (scanned files)
Ensuring New PDFs Are Accessible
Testing Accessibility
Word/PDF Accessibility
Making Existing PDFs Accessible
• Web sites, including PDF files on our web sites published as
of January 1, 2012:
– Will need to be accessible as per the Accessibility for Ontarians With
Disabilities Act (AODA) by January 1, 2014 (WCAG 2.0 Level A).
• PDFs on our web sites must either:
– Be accessible or
– Have accessible HTML equivalents
• Why?
– We want to reduce/eliminate barriers faced by people with disabilities
– Include whole audience (recruiting/retaining staff, students and faculty)
– 57+% computer users are likely to benefit from accessible technology
(Forrester Research, 2004)
– Legal reasons
Culture Change
• How we create documents
– Create a culture of thinking “accessibility” at
the time of creation(web,Word,PDF,etc.)
• Word templates will be made available but
– people still need to be aware of how to make
documents accessible and how to test for
• Accessibility testing – part of creation just
like naming and saving a file
When PDFs are not
accessible (scanned files)
• PDFs that are scanned files, saved as PDF, are
not accessible
• PDFs that have been created from an accessible
Word file, are generally accessible (but may
require tweaks to be fully accessible)
• Having an HTML version is the best alternative
in some cases
Ensuring New PDFs Are
• Educate campus
• Have resource staff to advise and help
• Training
• In house (SEW course, web pages)
• UW/IST may bring in a trainer for ½ day – 1 day
training course
• Provide templates (training is still required)
Testing Accessibility
• Word and Acrobat accessibility testing
• Free Testing Tool for individuals:
– PAC: http://www.access-for-all.ch/en/pdflab/pdf-accessibility-checker-pac.html
• Recommended by World Wide Web Consortium
• 14/23 WCAG 2.0 checks
• Gives text of what a blind person would hear
Word/PDF Accessibility
• A SEW course has been taught on
Word/PDF Accessibility
• The course notes are at:
under SEW Handouts/Web Courses/
Accessible Word and PDF Files
Making Existing PDFs
• Find PDF files on our sites (using internal or
external resources)
• If not needed anymore, remove from site
• Create HTML alternative, OR
• Make the PDF files accessible:
– Using an external resource for a cost OR
– Edit the source (e.g. Word) to make it accessible,
convert to PDF, test PDF for accessibility OR
– Tag existing PDF, test for accessibility (a lot of work)
Making Existing PDFs
• External Resources:
– There are organizations that will scan our sites and
make our PDF files accessible for a cost
CommonLook (Word, PPT (soon), PDF)
Many others to investigate
Making Existing PDFs
• An accessibility working group has been formed
– “The goal of this working group is to identify and
address gaps in information, training and support
required for uWaterloo staff pertaining to the web
accessibility legislation.”
• Spread the word about accessibility to the
campus community
• Encourage training
– Writing for the Web, Web Accessibility, PDF
• Ensure enough resources (staff/outside
resources) to meet January 2014 deadline
• Plan for testing web sites for accessibility
including PDF files
• Make templates available
• Plan for
– removing old PDFs
– Making existing PDFs accessible or adding
HTML equivalents
• Thank you ! 

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