requirements for making accessible pdf documents with adobe acrobat x (professional) at the u.s. department of education february 201


Requirements for Making Accessible PDF Documents with Adobe Acrobat X
(Professional) at the U.S. Department of Education
February 2012
Version 1.0

Requirements for Making Accessible PDF Documents with Adobe Acrobat X
(Professional) at the U.S. Department of Education
=====================================================================
Assistive technology is used by individuals to help them understand
electronic information. For example, screen readers or text-to-speech
software is one tool available and assists individuals who are blind,
have low vision, or a learning disability. This special technology
interprets words on the page and translates them to a computerized
voice that reads the information. You may have heard the name JAWS or
Window-Eyes as these are some examples of this assistive technology.
Accessible documents work in partnership with assistive technology to
ensure individuals with disabilities have access to information.
Listed below are basic PDF Requirements that help make documents
accessible in Adobe Acrobat X (Professional) and come from Section 508
of the Rehabilitation Act. The Department has identified sixteen
requirements that are divided into four major categories:
*
Document Layout and Formatting,
*
Document Images,
*
Document Tables, and
*
Other.
The majority of these requirements provide an underlying technical
structure so that they can be used effectively by assistive
technology. When you create an accessible document, you are using
methods that make a document usable by individuals with any type of
disability. A little change on your part to use built-in features
makes a big difference for individuals with disabilities.
NOTE: It is usually easier to remediate the source document (Word,
PPT, or Excel) according to the ED requirements found at
http://connected/index.cfm?cid=12b93199-93a9-67c1-5cfa-21e5c3ea4202.
Once remediated, checking against the following requirements is
easier. However, when obtaining the source document is not possible or
when the source document is outside of the formats listed above, then
the following requirements will still allow you to create an
accessible PDF document.
Adobe Acrobat X (Professional) has a built in accessibility checker.
However, the rules in the accessibility checker do not match the
requirements at the Department. Therefore, the checker can be helpful
in identifying some issues (i.e., missing alternative text, etc.), but
a document will not be considered accessible until it adheres to all
the requirements listed below.
Document Layout and Formatting
==============================
DO:
---
1.
Do ensure that accessibility tags are present and correctly
identified.
A document without tags is not accessible. However, it is not enough
for tags to be present, tags must correctly identify the visual layout
of the document because these tags indicate the document structure.
Tags identify the type of content such as a figure, paragraph, or
list. For example, if your document is a letter with an ED logo,
paragraphs, and a list, then the tag tree (shown on the left side of
the example) must have those same elements. In this example, the tag
tree correctly identifies the logo as a

, the various
paragraphs as

, and the bullets as list tags.

You can open the tag tree by selecting “view,” “Show/Hide,”
“Navigation Panes,” “Tags.” In order to see all the tags, press “Ctrl”
and click on the box with the plus sign. Finally, you can set up the
application to highlight content related to the tags by clicking on
the downward arrow in the Tags pane and selecting “Highlight Content”.
The most common tags are identified below.
1.
Headings
Do ensure heading tags are present in multiple page documents and make
sure that the headings follow in a hierarchical manner (i.e., Heading
1 (

) comes before Heading 2 (

) then Heading 3 (

) etc.). In
addition, make sure not to skip heading levels. For example, don’t
jump from

to

.
2.
References
When documents contain references, ensure they are associated with the
proper tag. Some examples include: annotations (), bibliography
entry (), caption (), index (), note
(), reference (), table of contents () and table
of contents item ().
3.
Lists
Ensure that lists are associated with a list tag (). Also, ensure
that the items within the list are associated with list item tags
(
  • ) and list body tags (.

    4.
    Tables
    Ensure that each table is associated with a table tag (). Also,
    ensure that the items within the table are associated with proper
    tags: table header cell (), and table data cell
    (
    ), table row (
    ).
    5.
    Headers and Footers
    If header/footer areas contain redundant information, then tags are
    not necessary. For example, if the Title of the Document is listed on
    the First page and repeated in footer areas on every page, then the
    footer area contains redundant information. However, if the
    Department’s address appears in the footer area and it’s not listed
    anywhere else in the Document, then it must have a corresponding tag.
    6.
    Paragraphs
    Ensure that paragraphs of text are associated with paragraph tags
    (

    ).
    7.
    Non-text Elements
    Ensure that non-text elements are tagged. For example, images are
    associated with figure tags (

    ).
    2.
    Do ensure that the document is structured to show a logical
    reading order.
    PDF tags also indicate the reading order of the document when used by
    assistive technology. You can inspect the document to ensure the
    content is in proper reading order – meaning the content order matches
    the visual layout or the desired layout – by opening the tag tree,
    setting the application to highlight content, and then “walking” down
    the tag tree to ensure that the tags match the visual layout. In the
    example below, the reading order is proper because it matches the
    visual layout. However, if the figure tag was listed after the
    paragraph tag which contains the “U.S. Department of Education”, then
    the tags would not match the visual layout and you would want to
    adjust the order of the tags.

    3.
    Do ensure all URLs are tagged properly.
    The tags panel should contain a tag that corresponds to the
    hyperlinked text in the document. There are three elements for an
    accessible link: the link tag (), the link object tag ( OBJR>), and the tag listing the URL. The last two tags must be nested
    under the link () tag. See the example listed below.
    AutoShape 3
    4.
    Do ensure all links work (are linked to active Web destinations).
    DO NOT :
    --------
    5.
    Do not rely on color-coding as the only means of conveying
    information or distinguishing a visual element.
    Color is useful in conveying important information. However, when
    color alone is used to convey meaning (i.e., making a section of text
    red), then a person who is blind or colorblind will not have access to
    the information. Therefore, color alone will not make information
    accessible. A remedy would be to use color and another indicator.
    An Example of using color and another indicator
    Below is a list of participants with the winner denoted with * and
    highlighted in red.
    Ann Jones
    Jim Cane*
    Janis Poole
    6.
    Do not use blinking text, objects, or other elements having a
    flash or blinking frequency between 2 Hz and 55 Hz.
    Document Images
    ===============
    DO:
    ---
    7.
    Do provide a text equivalent for every non-text element.
    Documents are usually a combination of text and non-text elements
    (i.e., images, photos, charts, graphical text or audio files). Because
    a screen reader cannot read a non-text element, it is important to
    include text equivalents so that people using assistive technology
    have access to the graphical elements. Text equivalents are referred
    to as “alt text” or alternative text and describe the information in a
    non-text element.
    You can add or edit Alternative Text by using the TouchUp Reading
    Order panel. Select “View”, “Tools”, “Accessibility”. In the open
    Tools panel, click on “TouchUp Reading Order” under “Accessibility”.
    Right click on the highlighted figure and click on “Edit Alternate
    Text”. Enter the Alternate Text in the box provided. Once you’ve
    entered the information, make sure you select “OK”.

    8.
    Do ensure multiple associated images (i.e., Organizational Charts)
    are grouped as one object and use one alternative text (alt tag)
    for the image.
    When creating a document image with multiple associated images,
    instead of providing an alternative text for each individual
    component, you must group the images together and then provide one
    alternate text for the whole image.

    With the touchup reading order tool open, select each of the separate
    images with your mouse while holding down the control key. All of the
    images will become highlighted. Next click the figure button on the
    touch up reading order tool and they will become one image as shown in
    the screenshot above. Insert alternative text as described above.
    9.
    Do ensure that complex images, diagrams or charts have descriptive
    text immediately after the image or in an appendix.
    When remediating a complex image, diagram or chart, it may not be
    possible to create an alternative text that sufficiently describes the
    object. Therefore, it would be necessary to provide descriptive text
    immediately after the image or in an appendix. See the example below.
    Example Figure 2:

    The table below shows the data for Governmental Activities Net Assets
    for Fiscal Years 2005 to 2008 with amounts in millions of dollars:
    GOVERNMENTAL ACTIVITIES
    2005
    2006
    2007
    2008
    Invested in Capital Assets, Net of Related Debt
    53,815
    55,473
    56,438
    58,208
    Restricted
    24,110
    25,993
    29,347
    31,358
    Unrestricted
    3,753
    8,696
    12,565
    11,105
    Total Governmental Activities Net Assets
    81,678
    90,162
    98,350
    100,671
    Document Tables
    ===============
    DO:
    ---
    10.
    Do ensure that cells (containing ‘data’) within the first row or
    column are designated with ‘Header Tags.’
    In PDF, a column or row header is identified with a Table Header
    (
    ) tag. Therefore, you must ensure that each cell in the row or
    column header is identified with a
    tag.
    Straight Arrow Connector 21 Straight Arrow Connector 23
    11.
    Do ensure tables are described and labeled when appropriate.
    There are various ways to describe and label a table. The example
    below shows a captioning label.
    Table 1: Simple table listing Department Schedule
    Department Code
    Class Number
    Room Number
    BIO
    100
    5
    BUS
    200
    8
    PSY
    300
    12
    12.
    Do ensure that the header row repeats at the top of each page when
    a table spans multiple pages.
    When tables span multiple pages, it is important that the header row
    repeats at the top of each page to facilitate navigation.
    Figure 2: Example of Header Row View When Table Spans Multiple Pages -
    Page 1

    Figure 3: Example of Header Row When Table Spans Multiple Pages - Page
    2

    DO NOT:
    -------
    13.
    Do not use tables with rows that break across the pages when the
    table spans multiple pages.
    Ensure that the content contained in rows does not split if the table
    spans more than one page. Again, this containment aids in navigation.
    Straight Connector 16 Straight Connector 17
    14.
    Do not use tables containing empty rows or columns.
    When a screen reader comes to an empty row or column, it reads, “blank
    cell.” When the rows or columns are used for formatting purposes, a
    person using assistive technology will hear multiple times, “blank
    cell, blank cell, blank cell.” This makes understanding the document
    difficult. Therefore, it is important to use simple tables that do not
    contain empty rows or columns for formatting purposes.
    Department Code
    Class Number
    Room Number
    BIO
    100
    5
    BUS
    200
    8
    PSY
    300
    12
    Other
    =====
    DO:
    ---
    15.
    Do ensure that the PDF has the proper language assigned.
    In PDF, you identify the language of the document by selecting File,
    clicking on “Properties”, clicking on the “Advanced” tab, and then
    making sure the appropriate language is listed under the Language menu
    located under “Reading Options”.
    Oval 10
    16.
    Do provide an alternative format, with equivalent information and
    functionality, if a document cannot be made accessible. This
    option should be used as a last resort.
    Following these basic requirements will increase the accessibility of
    your documents, but it does not guarantee accessibility to any
    specific disability groups. In cases where more certainty is required,
    it is recommended that you test the office documents with end users
    with disabilities, including screen reader users, or send to the
    Assistive Technology Team for testing.
    While basic requirements have been provided, more complex projects may
    have additional standards applied such as the technical standards in
    Section 508 in 1194.21, 1194.22, and 1194.31. If you are creating
    forms in a PDF Document please contact the Assistive Technology Team
    for additional information at [email protected] or contact via
    phone at: 202.453.7320.
    This document sets out basic requirements on making PDF documents
    accessible. We will continue to work on improving this document to
    make it even more user-friendly and ensure that it provides the most
    thorough and up-to-date information possible. Any feedback that you
    have on possible improvements would be appreciated and can be sent to
    [email protected].
    This document has been a team effort. A huge thank you to everyone on
    the development team: Don Barrett, OCIO; Crystal Jones, OCIO; Terri
    Youngblood, OCIO; Christopher Coro, OVAE; Geoff Rhodes, OSERS; and Jim
    Richards, Training and Development.
    R equirements for Making Accessible PDF Documents 15
    at the U.S. Department of Education

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