This is the second half of the blog posts on Accessible PDFs. Part one covered why we should strive to make PDFs accessible, where to purchase Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, and how to make Accessible PDFs. This post continues with that creation process, but looks at Forms and interactive PDFs. It also discusses the Repair Workflow feature, and Accessibility Checker, and hits a few more characteristics to keep in mind when creating accessible PDFs.
Let’s jump right back into it.
Forms and Interactivity
The last post ended with a discussion about Document Tags and proper reading order. These are especially important if you are creating a form, and/or wish for the document to allow interaction. Meaning that people who access the form or document can fill out parts.
For existing PDF files using this wizard is easy:
- Labeled form fields with accessible messages and no timing; to be accessible form fields must allow a value to be input into them; this means the form field is interactive. There should also be a defined logical tab order to allow for easy navigation. The simplest way to do forms is to leverage the application. Under Tools is a button that says Prepare Form. This is a wizard that will help you create an interactive and accessible form. It will even work with existing documents from PDF, Word, or Excel. You need to verify that the wizard correctly detected any existing data as fields with the proper labeling.
- Hyperlinks and Navigational Aids; navigational aids includes links, bookmarks, headings, table of contents, and preset tab orders. Bookmarks are useful and should be added; it’s super easy and handy to create these from the document headings.
- Examine the PDF document
- Add document properties and interactive features this takes care of the navigational aids and such.
- Identify scanned text and repair, runs Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
- Add form fields and buttons with labels and accessible names
- Set the document’s language.
- Add tags to the PDF file if it has not been tagged.
- Determine if the PDF file has been properly tagged. Verify tagged elements are properly sequenced and applied.
- Add Alternative Text.
- Check the document with the Acrobat Accessibility Checker.
This makes sure that the document complies with Adobe’s interpretation of accessibility guidelines (NOTE: It does not check against all possible accessibility criteria), and is the last thing you run to complete your document. Also check:
There are additional characteristics of accessible documents including:
- Use Reflow view to quickly check reading order and zoom readability.
- Use the Read Out Loud to experience the document as it will be heard by readers
- Save the document as accessible text and then read the saved text file in a word-processing application
This seems like a lot and the first few times it might take some time, but it is worth it not only for your colleagues who use assistive technologies, but it makes it easier for you in the long run. Once you get a system, know what to include, and what to avoid; it’ll become automatic to make all of your documents fit the standard, and it will take very little time. Use the tools available in Adobe that have been discussed. They take care of some of the time consuming stuff with just a few clicks.
- Don’t rely on color or sensory characteristics alone to convey meaning, this can cause problems for those with color blindness, low-vision, or are completely blind.
- Use of color combinations that provides a sufficient degree of contrast; this makes it easier for people who need a gray-scale display, or have trouble differentiating color shades, or have low vision.
- Controls for audio; this allows for use of headphones, or manipulation up, down, or off as the user needs. Make sure if there is audio or video that you also provide captions for videos, and transcripts for audio.
- Use of text instead of images of text; if an image does have text add it to the alternate text of the image.
- No use of flashing or blinking elements; this can trigger photosensitive epilepsy
- No focus changes without user initiation; this can throw those low vision and those with cognitive disorders.
- Consistent navigation and identification of elements; this makes it predicable for those using screen readers and those with cognitive disorders who rely on patterns to navigate and process data.