Make Accessible PDF's accessible.
The process to make a PDF accessible is overly complicated and buggy. Usually while doing this, something will go wrong and the only way to fix it is to close the document, open it again, do the same process and hope it works. This process should be as simplistic as possible so everything can be accessible.
We are always working to make it a better of experience for our accessibility customers.
We’ll be adding the support of Undo/Redo in order panels and Reading Order Tool in our coming releases.
Can you please tell me why you need the Tags Panel and Reading Order to be merged.
PDF/UA is the Standard to conform to for PDF accessibility.
If you need advanced tools for remediation, both Open Text and Crawford Technologies provide both manual and automatic work flow software (new 2020). CommonLook also provides a manual tool with many innovations and will sell subscriptions to companies who do their own remediation.
Mark Wahlsten commented
Even with the Accessibility wizard, Acrobat's accessibility tools are tedious to use, difficult and time-consuming to learn, and often unforgiving of mistakes.
Any steps not doable pre-emptively in InDesign or Word are intimidating and convoluted for beginners to fix.
- Many clients and stakeholders don't want to pay for the extra time accessibility steps currently take.
- Many businesses don't have the time or resources to teach Acrobat's accessibility tools to all their staff, pay subscriptions for expensive third-party tools, or hire external contractors.
- Many freelancers don't have time or resources either.
This learning curve dumps the burden for making everyone else's documents accessible, on the few staff and contractors that already understand its value – like designers, content creators, developers and accessibility experts. This is of course assuming we can convince management to invest in it at all – and not just dump it in the "too hard" pile.
I've also made a detailed suggestion to "Acrobat online / document cloud" to add a more user-friendly accessibility process to its online tools:
Please read and vote, to get this on their radar!
Alexis French commented
this is what I'm working on
Alexis French commented
ok is this a joke?
Brennan Young commented
"We are always working to make it a better of experience for our accessibility customers"
Does that include the Mac version? I can't get any PDF viewer on Mac to play properly with VoiceOver, expecially including Acrobat Reader.
As long as this goes unfixed, Adobe are choosing to make PDF unviable in various jurisdictions, including USA, Canada, EU, UK and others, because accessibility compliance is now mandatory in these regions, for the public sector at least, and there is legislation for the private sector on the road map too. Laws have already passed about accessible digital content in France for larger firms. Wake up Adobe!
Quote: "Alternatively, can I ask if there is any purpose for the reading order and the tag order to be different? Is this a legacy limitation of an old technology?"
They are 2 very different parts of a PDF file.
What's called the Order Panel today used to be called the Architectural/Construction order panel, Z-Order panel, and Content Order panel. It is based literally on how the content was created in the original SOURCE file, such as MS Word or Adobe InDesign. The first item placed into the file is first in the Arch/Const order, etc.
The Order controls the sequence of the content in the file. It's the original order built into all PDF files, and it was the original order for assistive technologies (AT), such as screen readers, before mark-up tags were added in 2001 (Acrobat 5).
Tags are a more recent development (2001) and the PDF/UA accessibility standard didn't come around until 2012. This is the international standard that tells us how to use tags in PDFs to make them accessible to those using assistive technologies.
Tags don't control the content. Instead, they LABEL the content so that it can be identified and processed by assistive technologies.
The PDF/UA-1 standard states that all assitive technologies should use the order of the tags in the Tags panel as the reading order. That's a very nice theory, but in the real world some AT doesn't quite follow that standard, especially older legacy AT that was developed before the first version of the PDF/UA standards of 2012...and that is still in use by end usrs.
Plus many other technologies used by everyone use the Order panel not the Tags panel to render the content. Think of tools that convert a multi-column PDF into a single column EPUB-like file for use on mobile devices.
I doubt the 2 will ever be merged, maybe the Order panel will become hidden and out of sight some time in the future. but for now they perform 2 different--but coordinated--functions in a PDF.
Our shop reccommends this remediation/checking process. We do attempt to make the Order panel match the Tags panel as much as is reasonable to do because this makes the file more machine readable by all technologies. However, we will let minor differences go when it's too costly or time consuming to make both orders match up. That's minor differences that don't affect the comprehension of the content by the end user.
1. Examine the Tags tree and note errors (but don't fix them yet).
2. Examine the construction order in the Order panel.
3. Correct the tags and order in the Order panel.
4. Items corrected in the Order panel should automatically be reflected in the Tags tree, but sometimes that doesn't work out (we need more tools in the Order panel to complete our toolset).
5. So in the Tags Options menu, check the Role Map. Very often it's throwing off the tag names.
Here's an older post by Duff Johnson about PDF structure and tags. It's still valid today. https://acrobatusers.com/tutorials/what-are-pdf-tags-and-why-should-i-care
6. Also edit and move tags as needed in the Tags panel.
Joel Crawford-Smith commented
Alternatively, can I ask if there is any purpose for the reading order and the tag order to be different? Is this a legacy limitation of an old technology? Or does it exist for any purpose that helps people with disabilities?
If there is no benefit to the end-user, why does that feature exist at all?
Can you merge them or provide a button to just reset one to match the other?
The tags panel and the reading order section are one and the same; depending on the screen reader, one will read or view the tags tree first, whereas others will view the reading order first. In reality, the two are one in the same; they should be the same. It takes double the time required to match the reading order to the tag tree.
Diane Coderre commented
I am able to set up my Accessible pdfs in InDesign with next to no remediation and the pdf does pass the full check, with some manually checking. But, I still have to remediate the sub head tags from TD to TH in the tables can you help with this issue?
Mike Craghead commented
I agree with the general sentiment: I've become pretty good at remediation but the learning curve was nutty, and I think it's a bit much to ask of folks whose brains are wired better for other tasks. I'm seeing a few expensive but effective products on the market which seem to have figured out how to automate many of the more labor-intensive tasks we're asked to perform in Acrobat, especially noticeable when there are hundreds of instances of the same problem (as seen in PAC3, for instance). My guess is that five years from now, accessibility will be a breeze. For the moment though, we're stuck with some serious clunkiness.
Here's one item that would help a lot of folks:
The tags panel is what most Assistive Tech pays attention to when establishing reading order, but the content panel, reading order panel and reading order "tool" (formerly TURO) are all easier to use than the tags panel. I believe they've been linked and unlinked from one another over the years, so now changes made in one panel are not reliably reflected in the others. It may be a pipe dream, but it seems like with a little programming smarts, Adobe could deliver a way to sync them all based on any one of them, either manually (via a button) or automatically, like, make a change and it is reflected across all panels.
For example, we could drag items around in the content panel, then press "set reading order based on content panel." The (formerly) TURO popup would have a similar feature, so the little numbers in the corner of each "gray box" would actually matter. And of course the order panel (as in, the one in the stack with the tags panel) would have the same feature.
I think heard a rumor that the order panel might be going away (again, not the TURO but the panel by the tags and such, in the left column). If it truly can't be given "teeth," as in, if it can't be used to re-order the Tags panel, then sure, lets' ditch it. But if it could be beefed up so it actually does what it looks like it does, then lets' keep it. Because the Tags panel requires a lot of expanding to figure out what's what, which makes it harder to use for sorting reading order.
PLEASE update Acrobat Pro DC's accessibility standard from WCAG 2.0 to WCAG 2.1. It came out a yaer ago, June 2018, but Acrobat does not yet support it.
Government agencies now require 2.1 to comply with accessibility legislation: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/accessibility-requirements-for-public-sector-websites-and-apps
Our accessible Pdfs are mostly for government agencies. If Acrobat does not update soon we can no longer use it and will have to find an alternative. Can anyone suggest any good apps that validate to WCAG 2.1?
Can't access ched.gov.ph
Thanks for adding the undo to the Order and Content panels.
Some other tools we need:
1. Ability to add these tags with the TURO/Reading Order tools:
Table of Contents/TOC Item
List / List Item / Lbl / Lbody
Essentially, we need the entire PDF-1 tag set that is listed in an Acrobat tag's Properties/Tag drop down menu.
2. In addition to the Auto IDs on table header cells (already there), auto scope and span on them, too.
3. And match up the data cells <TD>s with their respective header ID <TH> cells. STEM and government tables are usually several pages long and doing this manually can take hours, even a day or longer.
4. Ability to select some content and use AutoTag on it, not the entire document as it is now. In most documents, much of the tag structure is fine with some glitches on TOCs, tables, lists, etc. I don't want to loose the good tags when I use autotag, just want a portion to AI it into compliance.
—Bevi (delegate to the ISO PDF & PDF/UA standards committees)
Joel Crawford-Smith wrote: "And there are no alternatives to the product, so they don't have to fix anything."
Actually, we now have some alternatives to Adobe's products. 2 competitors have released PDF products that focus on accessibility. This is not the forum to mention them so I won't say anything more, other than Adobe's competitors are now on the playing field.
Joel Crawford-Smith commented
Bevi, they are never going to fix this. Sometimes we help each other. But you won't find any help from Adobe here in User Voice forum regarding Acrobat Accessibility things. Standard operating procedure for accessibility issues is:
1. Ignore it for a while.
2. If they reply, they won't answer the original question.
3. Ask some unnecessary question with an obvious answer, mark it as "Need Info". You can even post an example document, steps to reproduce, screenshots and it won't help.
4. Finally, keep asking those types of questions until you give up, say they will not fix it, or they stop replying.
Meanwhile, people with disabilities suffer because consumers cannot make documents accessible because the product is so impossible to use. And there are no alternatives to the product, so they don't have to fix anything.
Those who remediate PDFs for accessibility use 3 panels:
— Order (formerly the architectural/construction panel)
Right now, we have undo only in the Tags panel.
We need it for the other 2 panels, too.
This is critical.