(offer to) add PDF/UA flag to PDF when it passes the Accessibility Check
From reading the Adobe replies on the community forum, I understand that Adobe prefers not to add the PDF/UA 'flag' (an XMP identifier) automatically because accessibility conformance should involve manual checking.
I don't agree with this rationale.
Accessibility Check includes some steps which must be performed manually (e.g. color/contrast, read-order). The GUI offers a way to mark these steps as complete. It's a matter of trust. That's ok.
So let's say all tests are passed. Why not add the PDF/UA flag at that moment? Perhaps when all steps are passed, a query dialog could appear? Or just enable a checkbox in the save dialog? Something like that. Why not just make it easier?
The current process of adding the flag is poorly documented and error prone. Worse: Acrobat gives no hint that it needs to happen before a document is well-formed PDF/UA.
And what if I shift my process left, working with templates and design systems to make sure that my color/contrast is good, and that appropriate tags are being produced. What if my process generates dozens or hundreds of such documents?
Why should these all be checked manually? If there is way to automate this, please document it (with any caveats).
Brennan Young commented
I've been around the houses, including PAC, and all the docs on pdfa.org. I am fully aware that Acrobat checker does not check for everything that makes a PDF accessible, and that there's more to PDF UA than what the Accessibility Checker checks for. Yes indeed.
This is all fine.
But is this a rationale for making it difficult (occult, even) to add the PDF/UA tag? It's not impossible, it's just hard. Why?
Is this a rationale for failing to documenting the feature adequately?
If I put a DOCTYPE declaration at the top of HTML, it doesn't mean the code is valid!
Similarly, a PDF/UA tag may be added to *any* PDF file, regardless of the true accessibility conformance level. Why pretend otherwise? I see these flags as a commitment: - "judge the document against this standard" rather than "this document is 100% conformant".
Again, I raise the use case of adding the PDF/UA flag to multiple documents which have already been checked "upstream" - i.e. the files are generated by a process whose output has already been constrained to produce well-formed PDF/UA content. This can indeed be formally checked, e.g. if the "upstream" code includes appropriate tests.
And I raise the use case of files that have already been checked/tweaked manually with Acrobat, saved with the PDF/UA flag, closed and then reopened.
If the flag truly indicated conformance, Acrobat would not "reset" the accessibility checks of those documents. It would just read the flag and say "passed".
It can't be both ways. Either the flag is some kind of guarantee of conformance (in which case Acrobat should respect that when opening the file), or it's a promise to follow a standard, in which case Acrobat should just add the flag on saving in the relevant format(s).
Bevi Chagnon | PubCom.com commented
No, I don't agree with this idea.
The Acrobat checker does not check for everything that makes a PDF accessible. Basics like tag reading order, architectural reading order, color contrast, appropriate Alt Text on graphics ... all of these can't be checked with ANY tool, let alone with Acrobat's built-in checker and Preflight utilities.
Rae Benedetto commented
There's more to PDF UA than the Accessibility Checker checks for. Things like bounding boxes and placement (inline vs block), setting Content key for Annotations. The Acrobat AC doesn't even check for the Document tag. Use PAC checker to help automate this. https://pdfua.foundation/en/