Accessibility Errors with PDF Maker Update Sept 2021
Several major bugs have been documented by users in the Adobe Community Forums since Acrobat and PDF Maker were updated on September 14, 2021.
1: Alt-Text from MS Word is not converting into the PDF. Instead, it is dropped and gibberish code is inserted. See https://community.adobe.com/t5/acrobat-discussions/alt-text-converting-wrong-from-word-to-pdf/m-p/12393017 This violates the PDF/UA-1 standard which requires that every graphic have alt-text that verbally describes the graphic.
THIS IS A HUGE BUG. You essentially have made Acrobat unusable for those who are required by their country's laws to make fully accessible PDFs.
2: Every cell border on every table cell is being tagged as:
<P>PathPathPathPath. This violates PDF/UA-1 because unnecessary visual formatting is not being tagged at Artifacts.
3: The underline on Hyperlinks should be tagged as artifacts. Right not, it appears as one or more "PathPathPath" which is announced by different assistive technologies. See https://community.adobe.com/t5/acrobat-discussions/alt-text-converting-wrong-from-word-to-pdf/m-p/12393017
4: Borders and background shadings on Text Boxes are being tagged as a combination of <Figure>s and PathPathPath. This too is a violation of PDF/UA-1. https://community.adobe.com/t5/acrobat-discussions/alt-text-converting-wrong-from-word-to-pdf/m-p/12393017
5: Paragraph borders and shadings: same deal as #4 above.Per the PDF/UA-1 standard, they are visually decorative and should be artifacted. See https://community.adobe.com/t5/acrobat-discussions/alt-text-converting-wrong-from-word-to-pdf/m-p/12393017
NOTE: To be correctly tagged per PDF/UA-1, the borders/shading content should:
— Not appear anywhere in the Tag tree, either as <Figure> or as "Path" in a yellow content container box.
— Not appear in the Order panel.
— Should appear as Artifact in the Content panel.
6: Dragging and dropping elements in both the Tag and Order panels is now broken.
The text cursor doesn't show anymore, and the little black line doesn't show anymore and instead appears several inches away from where it really is. See https://community.adobe.com/t5/acrobat-discussions/alt-text-converting-wrong-from-word-to-pdf/m-p/12393017 and also https://community.adobe.com/t5/acrobat-discussions/acrobat-pro-reading-order-box-and-tag-dragging-no-longer-visible/m-p/12395226#M329877
7: Once this update is installed, users can't revert back to a previous version of PDF Maker because Adobe doesn't allow that in Acrobat like it does with other Creative Suite applications.
So once the update is completed, it makes PDF Maker completely unusable for tagged accessible PDFs.
This affects millions of your government customers world wide, as well as millions of government contractors and millions of academic customers...all of whom are required by their country's laws to make accessible PDFs.
2 sets of sample Word and Matching PDF files are submitted as demonstrations of the problems in the exported PDFs via PDF Maker.
Thank you for raising these accessibility issues. The post mentions about the following six bugs being introduced with the update that went live on September 14, 2021
1: Alt-Text from MS Word is not converting into the PDF. Instead, it is dropped and gibberish code is inserted
2: Every cell border on every table cell is being tagged as <P>PathPathPathPath
3: The underline on Hyperlinks should be tagged as artifacts
4: Borders and background shadings on Text Boxes are being tagged as a combination of <Figure>s and PathPathPath
5: Paragraph borders and shadings: same deal as #4 above.Per the PDF/UA-1 standard, they are visually decorative and should be artifacted
6: Dragging and dropping elements in both the Tag and Order panels is now broken.
Would like to mention that out of these, #1 and #6 were introduced with the Sep 14 update and remaining (#2, #3, #4 & #5) were present even in the Acrobat version prior to Sep 14 update. We apologize for the inconvenience caused by these issues.
Issue #1 and #6 were the regressions introduced with Sept 14th update and hence were fixed on priority with Sept 29th Update (Release Notes for September 29, 2021). With the latest version (22.001.20085) of Acrobat Pro DC released on March 7th (Release Notes for March 07, 2022), issues #2 and #3 have also been fixed. Issues #4 and #5 have been partially fixed so that PathPathPath tags won’t be part of the tag tree anymore. The remaining issue for #4 and # 5 (Borders and background shadings on Text Boxes / paragraphs are being tagged as <Figure>s) have already been added to our product backlog and those will be prioritized to be fixed in coming releases.
You can use the menu item Help → Check for Updates… to get the latest version of Acrobat Pro DC containing these fixes. Please try out the fixes and share the feedback as that will help us make our applications better from accessibility perspective.
Thanks & Regards
Charles Hill commented
This looks like it may have been an unintentional bug, but one that seriously broke accessibility. However, the result is devastating, since as a university professional I must comply with federal accessibility requirements. This requires an urgent fix!
Laurie Kamrowski-Lamb commented
I am required by law to maintain accessibility and this is absolutely appalling. This single handedly can destroy my work and progress in a document. Fix this!
John Sellmeyer commented
I echo my colleagues in their frustration at this major backslide in accessibility. As another higher education professional, accessible documents are not only a best-practice but legally mandated, and these issues will only create more work and more stress. PLEASE correct this issues as soon as possible.
Robin Cole commented
Accessibility is mandatory for documents used at my university. This update is a major setback for inclusivity.
Kristin Whisennand commented
I am required by law to generate accessible documents. Many of the documents I work on are hundreds of pages long with numerous figures and tables. This loss of functionality with alternative text for figures and the other PDF accessibility issues identified by Bevi Chagnon should be a critical priority for Adobe, because at this time we are unable to comply with Federal law regarding accessible documents.
Helen MacDermott commented
Aye, these are important fixes that need to be made. PLEASE address them ASAP!
Jennifer B commented
My company is a federal government contractor, and these issues (especially the alt text one) are going to WASTE our time and money to have to fix, until Adobe corrects these issues that affect accessibility requirements.
Please fix. I work in higher ed and we are required by law to create accessible documents. Acrobat is an essential part of our work flow. Thank you for your attention to these issues!
Amy DiMola commented
This is a significant step backwards in Universal Design & accessibility. These issues must be remedied as soon as possible.
Tracie Ortiz commented
Please fix this issue! We are a higher education institution and are required by law (just as you are) to provide accessible documents. Thank you so much for your attention to this critical issue.
Patricia Goude commented
I am a writer-editor with the USDA Forest Service. Using Adobe Acrobat to create PDFs is an essential part in the finalization of most documents we produce. These bugs are a serious problem for all of us trying to prepare accessible documents. The final phases of the publication process are stressful enough without adding these problems!
Please resolve these issues as soon as possible or let us return to the earlier version where all of these features worked.
David Fourney commented
My company is required by local and national laws to produce accessible documents. Seeing this defect fixed is a high priority for us. We ask Adobe to give it immediate attention.
My employer is required BY U.S. LAW to provide accessible documents. Your new version of Acrobat makes this impossible. Please fix the problems mentioned above.
This is totally inappropriate Adobe. My job is to help people address systemmic issues with accessibility in higher education. There are enough challenges without Adobe's software adding barriers.
Cynthia Hollingsworth commented
It is absolutely critical that these issues be remedied as soon as possible. Our university is subject to state and federal guidelines that we meet WCAG AA accessibility guidelines. Our faculty, students, staff, alumni, donors and community affiliates depend on our university providing accessible content. We have always counted on Adobe doing the right thing; don't let us down now.
The 3rd of several problems in how PDF Maker (and InDesign's export to PDF utility) tag PDFs.
In complex tables (that is, a table with multi-row column headers, multi-column row headers, merged cells, or sub-headers in the middle of the table)...
1. Each <TH> must have a unique header ID, and
2. Each data cell <TD> must be associated with one or more header IDs.
This is required per the PDF/UA-1 accessibility guidelines, and is outlined in the Tagged PDF Syntax Guide, Sec. 5.4.1 (the Syntax Guide is available for free from https://www.pdfa.org/resource/tagged-pdf-best-practice-guide-syntax)
At this time, we can autogenerate the Header IDs (Table Editor / right-click on any cell, select Autogenerate Header Cells ID). Thank you for that, Adobe!
But we need the other half of this requirement: auto-associate each <TD> table cell with one or more Header Cell IDs. It's difficult and very time consuming to manually make these associations on long tables, plus former shortcuts that let us select multiple cells and apply an ID have now failed. See this Forums post https://community.adobe.com/t5/acrobat/accessibility-of-tables-does-it-have-to-take-hours/td-p/12143085.
This is a failure of Acrobat and along with missing Scope and Span on the header cells, causes most tables to fail accessibility checkers and take an inordinate amount of time to fix manually. (See scope and span at https://acrobat.uservoice.com/forums/590923-acrobat-for-windows-and-mac/suggestions/41399425-pdfmaker-set-the-scope-row-span-and-column-span )
That after running a utility for tables, the tables have not just Header IDs (already there), but the association to the <TD> data cells.
And, of course, Scope and Span, too.
#2 of several problems in how PDF Maker tags tables.
Extra unnecessary tags are created by Adobe's PDF Maker plugin for MS Office. These tags cause the PDF to be inaccessible. See the attached screen captures of a PDF from Word 365 with PDF Maker 21.5.80.
The unnecessary <P> holds Path Path graphic data for the borders around each cell in a row.
No human being wants to hear Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path when they access each table row. Screen readers voice the content of these tags, which is what a screen reader is supposed to do.
From PDF Maker for Office, a <P> Path Path tag is placed at the start of each <TR> row.
( KUDOS, you corrected tables from Adobe InDesign's built-in export utility, which used to create an <Artifact> tag (not the artifact attribute) with Path Path graphical data.)
PROBLEM: it causes Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path to be voiced each time the tag is encountered in the table.
THEREFORE, remediators must locate each instance of this tag (one for each row of every table) and manually artifact it the correct way. Such a time-waste.
These <P> and <Artifact> tags with Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path Path should never ever appear in the tags tree at all, and are correctly artifacted out of the way for screen reader users.
Adobe, you have 2 engineers on the PDF ISO committees for PDF/UA. THEY know what the tag structure should be and are very active contributors to the standard.
Refer to the "Syntax Guide" for the correct tag structure for PDF/UA-1. It was co-written by your 2 engineers and others (like me) who are PDF Association members and part of the working group that writes the standard.
Download a free copy of the Syntax Guide from https://www.pdfa.org/resource/tagged-pdf-best-practice-guide-syntax/
See sections 4.2.4 and 4.2.5.
Working in Word is complex enough. Please fix this.
Screen capture of a PDF exported from Word 365 with PDF Maker 20.
Note the missing Lbl tag that should be inside the LI tag.