Bug - PDF Tag Panel does not match Reading Order Tool by marking all Tags as Span
This issue of InDesign and Acrobat incompatibility in regards to Acrobat displaying all spans even when the Reading Order is correct has been around for over two years. We deserve to know what Adobe is doing about it.
Acrobat Team acknowledges the problem and blames InDesign:
"It's actually not an Acrobat issue, it's an issue with InDesign and how it's generating the Content that Acrobat is displaying correctly"
InDesign Team acknowledges the problem and blames Acrobat:
"You'd have to talk to the Acrobat team about why they display in the Tags panel the way they do." - Adobe
"Our investigation suggests that the issue lies in the latest update of Acrobat and there is little that can be done at our end to resolve the issue.
The problem has been communicated to the relevant team.
In the meanwhile we are closing this thread for InDesign."
And closes the issue.
What is Adobe doing to fix this issue? And don’t tell us that it is not a real problem for screen readers because the Tags panel is ok. When a certain government agency reviews files, they just use the Reading Order Tool when they make complaints against people who use your product. These are not the kind of people who will read all these posts of Adobe blaming each other and then saying it does not matter because some screen readers don't use the reading order. Adobe is basically saying that this feature is pointless. If it is pointless remove it or merge it fully with the Tags panel.
Besides, there is a lot more assistive technology and applications than just JAWS and NVDA that depend on the reading order and reflow being correct.
What is Adobe doing to fix this span issue?
And don’t ask me for more info or more files. You have these posts with detailed explanations and you have already acknowledged the problem exists yourselves and acknowledged that you can reproduce it yourselves. And don’t tell us to go to Forums for help. Because they will send us back to UserVoice.
I have escalated the issue to the Engineering Team and will get back to you once I get an update on this.
Hey there! After doing some research and testing, I found out something that might be helpful. It seems like there's should be a simple fix for the issue - all you need is access to the code and locate the section where the code decides how the PDF is tagged for content. It looks like the program is failing to figure out what tags need to be placed, which causes the the user to see everything as "span" when on the viewer panel while the tags panel remains correct. It's possible that the programmer overlooked this and left the code to automatically assign the content label as "span" to make sure that the code worked for that part. This is all my guess based off the manual fix I found.
Small observation I noticed with the content tag is that if its not a tag that divides into more tags it appears that the tag and content are labeled the same but if it divides further down then it doesn't do this (ex:Lists, Tables, and more)
To manually fix the issue (keep in mind that it is a lot of work), go to the Tag panel for the document and remove any <span> tags found. However, this is not the main issue causing the span to be displayed on the order panel. Once you have fixed that issue, we can focus on the main problem. For every tag, you will need to right-click, select "Properties," and a popup screen will appear. In this popup, you should see an option for "Content" at the top. Click on it, and in the option below, you will see a "span" in the Container tag. Change the container tag to reflect the tag that it needs to be for the document. After making this change, it should display correctly in your viewer panel. This is a really annoying manual fix, but it is the source of the issue. I hope this manual fix helps until Adobe can fix the code for the application.
Pariah Burke commented
Still happening in Acrobat Pro 2022.003.20314 on both Win and Mac with a document that it previously did not happen with (a lesson file as I teach Acrobat Accessibility).
I have the latest version of Acrobat Pro and still seeing the problem in the Tags panel. I'm a certified accessibility specialist.
Ellen King commented
The latest version of Acrobat Pro has resolved this problem in the Tags panel.
I can't understand that this is still not automatically done. Please make the two match. It's obvious that they should.
Kellie Manley commented
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I have 50 Indesign forms created as accessible documents which when converted to Acrobat show inconsistent results in the reading order panel. Trying to re-order anything in that panel creates additional errors--other items are incorrectly reordered as a result. Is this another bug? This is a simply impossible workflow. Please address this problem.
Ellen King commented
The work-around did not work for me. Adobe, any word on when this issue will be fixed?
Note - I was able to work around this.
I have a document with multiple images and text boxes. By creating a new document and cutting/pasting all content in the exact read order, adding content to the article panel at the same time, upon export the Reading Order tool in Acrobat displays correctly. I hope this can help someone else who's having this issue.
Has there been any update to this? It's an intensely frustrating issue.
Thanks Rachit, for escalating the problem. This is a serious issue that needs rapid attention. As Bevi Chignon said below, "This is costing governments worldwide millions of dollars to fix InDesign's PDFs by hand in Acrobat."
Do you have any updates for us on how this issue is being addressed?
Will Suckow commented
Thank you Rachit, for escalating the problem.
In the current model, manually remediating the reading order tags shouldn't be necessary if the time is spent to get the order correct in the tags panel — they should sync.
Otherwise there's no point to having all lovely style mapping tools in InDesign if they don't result in a useful product for even Acrobat's own out-loud reader.
Paragraphs should be tagged as paragraphs, not separate <span> lines
Mike Craghead commented
Just when i was finally training myself to use styles consistently, minimizing my PDF remediation, the <spans> showed up and removed the fastest way to check my work, via the RO panel.
Wading through the tag tree to check everything is needlessly tedious.
Synchronizing the RO panel with the tags panel makes good sense and should of course be done. But even if that's still out of reach, we need a more efficient way to catch the errors without having to expand the whole tag tree. And if under the hood it's all really a big XML text file, couldn't any halfway decent coder on the Acrobat team write up an anti-span script to restore the usefulness of the RO panel for remediation? It's a somewhat kludgy and temporary solution, but it sure would make a lot of us happy, saving incalculably large piles of time and money.
This problem detailed in the main forums is related to the problem on this page.
It shows how the tags shown in the Order Panel don't match those in the Tag Tree.
The PDF/UA standards require that the Tags Tree have accurate tags, but other technologies use the Order Panel and its tags and reading order.
So we need both panels to be 100% in synch with each other: same tags and same reading order in both the Tags and Order panels.
Chad Chelius commented
We've all done way too much work on this issue. It's time for the company that writes this program to figure out the problem and get it fixed. Thanks Rachit for escalating this issue. I'm anxious to see it get resolved but in everyone's defense, it's taken way too long.
Thank you, Rachit.
Marinette Fargo commented
I agree and repeat everything in this thread and the comments. Enough is Enough! This has been a big issue for much longer than it should have been. I have read so many forum posts and listserv messages on this problem and it leaves me to feel like Adobe doesn't care or have any intention in remediation.
And while the correct tags show in the Tags panel, why wouldn't they also show in Acrobat's Reading Order panel like they used to? It seems superfluous to have the Reading Order panel simply show 'Span' throughout 150-250+ page documents, especially when the export settings are appropriately tagged in InDesign. As a result, we may be required to discontinue our use of Adobe products due to the extra work, which would be really disappointing and not our preference!
Please FIX THE PROBLEM and stop blaming the other divisions.
This is costing governments worldwide millions of dollars to fix InDesign's PDFs by hand in Acrobat.
Now that you have viable competitors that can create compliant PDFs, don't throw your customer base under the bus! They will get up and run to your competition.
The problem began with the release of InDesign CC:2017.
Get the 3 programming teams together (InDesign, Acrobat & PDF Producer/Library) and figure out how to fix it.