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The Role of Tags in PDF Accessibility and Remediation

The practice of locating and labeling (also known as “tagging”) digital components of PDF documents in order to make them readable by assistive technology users with impairments is known as PDF remediation to read digital content. 

Sadly, a lot of PDFs are inaccessible to people with special needs. A 2023 report from the Department of Justice (DOJ) found that only 20% of the government’s most downloaded PDFs were conformant with federal accessibility standards.

Understanding PDF Tags

A tagged PDF is a PDF file that has its content marked up with HTML tags to give it context and a logical reading order.

XML is used to describe a PDF document’s structure and designate roles for different content elements when tagging the document.

 Importance of Tags in PDF Accessibility

  • Better Searchability: PDFs with accessibility tags make searching for specific content within a document easier. More efficient indexing of the article by search engines is made possible by the tags attached to various elements. Users can save time and effort by rapidly locating particular keywords, phrases, or portions inside a labeled PDF.
  • Searchable Text: Optical character recognition (OCR) must be used to transform the scanned images into searchable text before discussing accessibility in the document.
  • Better Navigation: Picture each chapter as an embedded PDF that exists in a central PDF that serves as a master document. This would make it simple for users to navigate between portions of the main document using tools that are straightforward and well-organized, even for those who rely on screen readers for accessibility.  

Types of PDF Tags 

  • Container/Grouping Tags
  • Heading Tags
  • Text Tags
  • Table Tags
  • Special Elements

Remediation of Existing PDFs

  • Regarding images and graphics: Make sure that every image and graphic in the PDF has an alternate text description that, for those who use screen readers, appropriately describes the image’s content.
  • right PDF tags: The biggest advantage of PDF is to ensure that the document looks exactly the same online as it does in print. Another advantage of adding the right PDF tags is to improve the SEO of online documents by making such documents more useful to those who read them.
  • Making lists accessible: Lists need to be tagged properly to allow screen reader users to go directly to lists and to navigate through them properly. Lists are typically well-tagged using the “Autotag Document” (via the “Accessibility” toolset) and “Make Accessible” (through the Action Wizard toolset) features.
  • Forms and Tables: If a PDF’s forms and tables are properly labeled, it can be accessed. Ensure tables have proper header rows and columns to make content navigation easy. It’s important to keep in mind that specific tags are needed for tables. The tag <Table> should be used when tagging a table.

 Tools and Resources for PDF Accessibility

Several tools and resources are available to assist in creating and remediating accessible PDFs. Here are some valuable tools:

  • CommonLook: PDF Compatibility and Accessibility Leading the way in PDF accessibility, CommonLook offers businesses expert services and tools to help them comply with WCAG, PDF/UA, and Section 508 requirements for document accessibility.
  • axesPDF: axesPDF is a test and touch-up tool with limited capabilities for fixing some accessibility problems. you would still need to use several other tools to ensure the tags are correct and verify full 100% compliance with the accessibility standards.
  • Adobe Acrobat Pro DC: Adobe Acrobat Pro DC allows for elements of a document to be tagged according to their purpose. Screen readers utilize these tags to understand the document’s structure even though they are not visible in the text.

 Common Mistakes in PDF Tagging

Embedded Fonts

When fixing a document, one of the first things to do is embed typefaces. If you try to execute your remediation without going through this step, your document may get corrupted when you embed the fonts at the end of your remediation procedure. You will have to start over from a previously saved version of the document once it becomes corrupted.

Headings

The majority of PDFs that are available online use various presentation strategies to include headers and subheadings, but they are not marked as headers.

Tables

Simple and sophisticated layouts, data, and tables are all included and categorized. Table headers make tabular data easier for screen reader users to understand. A screen reader reads one cell at a time, in left-to-right and top-to-bottom order. In the absence of headers, a screen reader will render all the cells as data cells and users will not know which data cell is associated with which row and column header.

 Not Providing Alternative Text

Another common mistake that content developers make is failing to provide alternative text for images, videos, and other visual elements. It can be a significant drawback for visual impaired users who are relying on screen readers to access digital content.

Including watermarks in your PDF tag tree

If your PDF includes a decorative watermark (for instance, a watermark of your company’s logo), it doesn’t need to be included in the tag tree. For screen reader users, your watermark may disrupt the flow of your material if it is included in the tag tree and shows up on every page

PDF Remediation

Definition and Importance

The technique of identifying and labeling (also known as “tagging”) digital parts of PDF documents is known as “PDF remediation,” and it is used to make PDF documents readable by individuals with disabilities who use assistive technology to interpret digital content. Adding tags to a PDF document makes it readable by assistive devices such as screen readers. This technique is known as PDF remediation. There are several justifications for correcting your PDF documents.

In order to make digital information more accessible to those with disabilities or those who use assistive technology, such as screen readers, voice recognition software, alternate input devices, or screen magnifiers, text-to-speech software, and Braille displays. It is also helpful for people with cognitive disorders or impairments related to the brain as well. In general, remediation is an essential component of PDF accessibility. Not only can more people use any remediated PDF document, but these formats also improve the cleanliness and organization of the text, photos, lists, links, and tables.

Conclusion

In conclusion, PDF correction is necessary to ensure that electronic documents are readable by everyone, regardless of ability. Prioritizing elements like tagging and logical reading order helps organizations show their support for diversity and guarantee that more people can access their material.


DTP Labs is a desktop publishing company based in New Delhi, India. We offer book publishing Services, PDF to Word conversions, post-translation DTP, and e-Learning localization services to translation agencies worldwide. To avail of our services, check out our website www.dtplabs.com, or contact us at info@dtplabs.com.

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