How to Make PDFs Accessible | Episode 9: West Hills College Leemore

Welcome to episode nine on community college PDF accessibility. Today, we focus on West Hills College Leemore’s 2023-2024 Instructional Calendar.

Video Guide

In case you missed them, here are Episode 1Episode 2,  Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5Episode 6Episode 7, and Episode 8 in our PDF Accessibility Community College Series.

Understanding PDF Accessibility Challenges

Difficulty in Locating Accessible PDFs

Our first challenge is finding PDFs on West Hills College Leemore’s website. The initial search yielded no results, indicating either a lack of PDFs or a website search function not optimized for such queries. This highlights a common problem where accessible documents are either scarce or not easily locatable, hindering the ability of people with disabilities to access information.

Inadequate Tagging of PDF Documents

The PDF lacked a comprehensive structure, including the absence of a document tag. Proper tagging is crucial for screen readers to interpret and navigate a document. This partial tagging reflects a widespread issue where documents are only minimally accessible, not meeting the needs of all users.

Correct tag properties to create an accessible tag structure in a PDF
Technical Challenges with Adobe Acrobat

We used an older version of Adobe Acrobat for this Episode, which changed the usual workflow. This points to a broader issue where accessibility work can depend heavily on specific software versions, potentially limiting the effectiveness of accessibility efforts if the latest tools are unavailable.

Issues with Content Representation

Content must be properly formatted for accessibility. For example, acronyms like “TH” for Thursday might not be correctly interpreted by screen readers. This issue underlines the importance of clear and explicit content presentation for accessibility.

Problems with Automated Tools

Despite making several manual adjustments, we found discrepancies when running the PDF through an accessibility checker. It indicates untagged text objects, suggesting that automated tools might not always accurately reflect the accessibility status of a document. This reveals a limitation in relying solely on automated checks for accessibility compliance.

Importance of Saving Changes

Remember to save the PDF before testing it with an accessibility tool, to ensure correct results. This demonstrates the importance of following proper procedures in accessibility work to avoid misinterpretation of a document’s accessibility status.

Challenges with Tagging and Re-tagging

Making this PDF accessible involved extensive manual tagging, re-tagging, and artifacting of elements within the PDF. This labor-intensive process underscores the lack of streamlined, efficient methods for ensuring PDF accessibility, highlighting a need for more user-friendly tools and methods in accessibility work.

Missing PDF/UA Identifier

Always ensure your PDF meets PDF/UA (PDF/Universal Accessibility) standards, which are crucial for making PDFs accessible to assistive technologies. Head to Adobe Acrobat’s Preflight menu and use the “Print Production” tool. Select “Preflight,” and then use the single fix feature to search for and set the PDF/UA-1 entry.

Run the PAC 2021 tool to ensure your PDF is accessible.

Today’s journey to PDF accessibility highlights several challenges faced in the field of digital accessibility. These include difficulties in locating accessible documents, partial or improper tagging, dependency on specific software versions, limitations of automated tools, and the labor-intensive nature of ensuring document accessibility. Addressing these issues is crucial for creating an inclusive digital environment where information is accessible to all.

Remember, I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

More posts like this:

How to Resize a PDF

Welcome to today’s blog post, where we’re learning how to resize a PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro. Downsizing large PDFs saves disk space, bandwidth, and computer memory. It also allows…

How to Update Tooltips in a PDF

Welcome to today’s blog post. We’re discussing the importance of adding unique tooltips to PDF form fields with the same name. This boosts the accessibility of a PDF. Video Guide…

How to Make PDFs Accessible | Episode 8: Fresno City College

Welcome to episode eight on community college PDF accessibility. Today, we focus on Fresno City College’s form for Biomedical Equipment Technicians.

Video Guide

In case you missed them, here are Episode 1Episode 2,  Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5Episode 6, and Episode 7 in our PDF Accessibility Community College Series.

Key Takeaways from This Episode

This episode reveals common issues with PDF accessibility, highlighting the need for meticulous attention in document creation to ensure full accessibility for individuals using assistive technology.

  • Simply Document Structure: Implement a clear structure with simple navigation. Use standard tags for text and tables, ensuring they are not overly nested.
  • Auto-tagger limitations: The auto-tagger places the form fields into the PDF, but doesn’t necessarily tag each form field. The Adding Form Fields tool also has its limitations. In the end, you may have to manually tag each form field.
  • Avoid Unnecessary Tags and Blank Spaces: Remove or convert unnecessary elements to artifacts.
  • Appropriate Use of Table Headers: Correctly label table headers and data cells to provide context for the data presented. Select incorrectly labeled cells, right-click, select Properties, and choose the option you wish.
Properly label table cells so readers understand the purpose of each field.
  • Form Field Accessibility: Write clear and descriptive labels and tooltips so users understand each field’s purpose. Ensure they are informative but not overwhelmingly long. Use the Prepare a Form tool to go through cells quickly.
Updating tooltips for each data cell so readers understand the field's purpose.

Making PDFs accessible requires a trial-and-error approach to resolve errors. Regularly consult the accessibility checker and make necessary adjustments. Also, be prepared to deal with tool inconsistencies, making manual adjustments when needed.

Remember, I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

More posts like this:

How to Make PDFs Accessible | Episode 7: Reedley College

Welcome to episode seven on community college PDF accessibility. Today, we focus on Reedley Community College’s document “HSE Enrollment Form.”

Video Guide

In case you missed them, here are Episode 1Episode 2,  Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5, and Episode 6 in our PDF Accessibility Community College Series.

Key Takeaways from this Episode


This episode reveals common issues with PDF accessibility, highlighting the need for meticulous attention in document creation to ensure full accessibility for individuals using assistive technology.

Streamlining PDF Accessibility with Appropriate Tagging

  • Nested Tags and Reading Order Challenges: Manually cut and paste tags to correct improper nesting, thereby streamlining the document’s structure. This ensures the organization of headings, sections, paragraphs, figures, and lists in a logical reading order. Additionally, remove unnecessary section tags and artifact redundant content to simplify the document’s structure.
  • Improper Tagging of Form Fields: Separate blended content like combined city, state, zip, and phone information. Create new tags for each form field and move existing ones to ensure proper labeling and visibility for screen readers.
  • Inconsistent Use of Heading Tags: Review all heading tags (H1, H2, etc.) to ensure consistency. Note that non-essential content should never be tagged as headings.
  • Issues with Nested Lists: Address formatting issues in nested lists to ensure they are correctly structured. Place your nested list inside an ‘LBody’ tag for clear and logical content association.
Properly tagging a nested list in a PDF
  • Ineffective Alternate Text for Images: Add descriptive alternate text to all PDF images to convey each image’s content and function.
  • Excessive Content in Single Paragraph Tags: Break down large blocks of content grouped under a single ‘p’ tag by creating multiple new ‘p’ tags to separate and organize the content more effectively.
  • Extra Rows and Blank Content: Identify and remove any extra rows that represent blank content.

Ensuring PDF Accessibility through Accessibility Checkers

  • Font Embedding Issues: Use the preflight tool in Adobe Acrobat to embed missing fonts.
  • Annotation Nesting Errors: Ensure that all interactive elements like widgets are appropriately nested within the document’s framework.
  • Table Issues: Use the Reading Order Tool for Tables to identify and edit table structures. Add headers to tables and remember to set the ‘column’ and ‘row’ scope appropriately.
  • Address Inappropriate Use of Figure Elements: Modify the placement attribute of figure tags from ‘start’ to ‘inline’ and then to ‘block’ if necessary.
Changing the placement attribute of a figure tag in a PDF
  • Correct Metadata for PDF/UA Compliance: Finally, add a PDF/UA identifier to the document’s metadata using the Preflight menu in Adobe Acrobat.


The above process actively demonstrates the need for a detailed and methodical approach to ensure PDF accessibility. To guarantee documents are comprehensible for all users, one must be thorough and understand the technical tools and standards.

Remember, I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

More posts like this:

Path Object not tagged | PDF / UA

Welcome to the world of document accessibility! Today, we’ll demystify a common issue that plagues many users – the ‘Path Object Not Tagged’ error – especially when working with Adobe…

How to make a form accessible

Video Overview: The intent of this post is to provide additional practice for form accessibility in adobe acrobat pro. For more in-depth directions on how to make PDF forms Accessible…

How to Make PDFs Accessible | Episode 6: Fullerton College

Welcome to episode six on community college PDF accessibility. Today, we focus on Fullerton Community College’s document “Points of Interest and Clarification Architecture.”

Video Guide

In case you missed them, here are Episode 1Episode 2,  Episode 3Episode 4 and Episode 5 in our PDF Accessibility Community College Series.

Start with a quick review of the tags panel. The PDF had several blank tags and an unclear tag structure. Poor tagging provides inaccurate information to screen readers which disrupts accessibility.

In this case, the issues found suggested the document was converted from a Microsoft Word document, without proper accessibility checks.

Key Issues from This Episode

Run the auto tag feature to improve the PDFs accessibility:
  • The auto-tagger did a great job of organizing the content into proper tags like paragraphs (p tags) and headings (h1, h2, h3 tags). Lists were also formatted correctly.
  • Auto-tagger isn’t a perfect process, so we manually adjusted a few tags after running it. For example, h2 tags were changed to paragraph tags and the inconsistent headings for the Fall and Spring sections were changed to h3 for uniformity.
  • Finally, for better identification and searchability, update the PDF’s metadata, like the title and author.
A well organized PDF tags panel after running the auto-tagger.
After completing these initial fixes, the accessibility checker identified more PDF accessibility challenges:
  • Identify and manually correct misused tags. We found a figure tag that was meant to be a paragraph tag and corrected it.
  • Page numbers were not tagged so we manually selected each page number and tagged them as paragraphs.
Manually tagging page numbers in a PDF.
Multiple runs of the PAC checker also revealed several errors:
  • The structure tree showed several inappropriate uses of span tags which is a common error plaguing our PDF College Series!
  • Identify and correct role mapping problems by removing non-standard types, which show errors in the PAC checker. For example, our PDF contained ‘style spans’ which were not standard so we manually searched the tags panel and changed each to a regular span tag to eliminate the errors.
Changing Style Span tags to Span tags to eliminate errors

Troubleshooting these issues is a trial-and-error process. Remember to keep saving your PDF. Repeating tasks requiring absolute accuracy takes serious mental effort and is not fool proof.

PRO-TIP: To change multiple tags at once, hold down the control key and select your tags for editing. Next, open up the document properties, and change the ‘type’. Be careful! A single mis-click can deselect all your chosen tags, which then requires the process to be repeated.

Changing multiple PDF tag types at once.

This PDF had several accessibility issues. We used both automated and manual interventions including ensuring proper tagging, updating metadata, embedding fonts, and correcting ‘span’ styles in order to make it accessible

Remember, I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

More posts like this:

How to make PDFs Accessible | Episode 5: Irvine Valley College

Welcome to episode five on community college PDF accessibility. Today, we focus on Irvine Valley College’s DSPS Student Parent Night 2023 document.

Video Guide

In case you missed them, here are Episode 1Episode 2,  Episode 3 and Episode 4 in our PDF Accessibility Community College Series.

Key Issues from this Episode

The document originated from PowerPoint. We knew to expect multiple issues on our road toward PDF accessibility.

Here’s a run-down of issues after running the auto-tagger:
  • Header Issues: The document incorrectly uses ‘p’ tags for headers. These should be formatted as ‘h1’ or other appropriate header tags. Inconsistent tagging leads to a confusing heading hierarchy.
  • Acronym Clarity: The text “HS Student Parent Night” uses unclear acronyms. Expand acronyms for clarity. Change the text in the document properties.
  • Figure Tags: Adding alternative text to figure tags is crucial for visually impaired users to understand image content. Figures with text should be transcribed in the alt text area. Artifact any figures that don’t add value.
Adding alternative text to Figure tags is essential for accessibility
  • List Continuity: A disjointed list that spans multiple pages should be streamlined into a single list tag so as not to confuse screen readers.
  • Link Management: Multiple hyperlinks to the same source on the same page is excessive and non-informative.
  • Color Contrast Issues: Poor color contrast requires changes for legibility. Change font color in the editor. Use black and other dark colors to enhance accessibility.
Example of terrible colour contrast in a PDF making the page unreadable
  • Reading Order Complications: Use the reading order tool to select content and mark it as a text paragraph for proper flow.
  • Misplaced Content: Some content did not highlight when selected due to possible OCR errors. Artifact the content as a temporary fix.
Here’s a run-down of issues after running the PAC tool:
  • Embed Missing Fonts: This can cause issues with text display. Embed the missing fonts using the preflight tool.
  • Missing Link Annotations: Create content entries for link annotations to make links accessible.
  • Metadata and Structure Tree Issues: There were problems with the structure tree and metadata, which required fixes to comply with PDF/UA standards.
  • Non-Tagged Path Objects: This can lead to accessibility issues. Head to the Content panel and artifact these objects.
Artifact path objects in content panel of Adobe Acrobat

PRO-TIP: Save your document before entering the Content panel as it’s very easy to mess up your PDF in there!

  • Multiple span tags: These came through due to the initial PowerPoint formatting and led to errors showing in the PAC tool. Carefully inspect and manually correct.

Conclusion

PDFs converted from PowerPoint are not accessible. On our journey to PDF accessibility, Adobe Acrobat didn’t always function as expected, leading to additional complications in the remediation process. For example, despite corrections, errors persisted, necessitating a page extraction, which led to further issues. We had to adjust the structure, manually make tagging corrections, re-embed fonts, re-add the the PDF/UA identifier. Whew!

Remember, I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

More posts like this:

What are PDF tags?

Tags are the basis for accessibility within a PDF. Without proper tags there is no accessibility. Tag elements provide semantic information for screen readers, control the reading order, and other…

Does my PDF have tags?

The majority of accessibility occurs in the tags panel but how do you know if your PDF has tags in it? Important Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Pro to…

Making a PDF Accessible: Episode 4 |Glendale College


Welcome to episode four on making college PDFs accessible. Today, we focus on Glendale Community College’s Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) newsletter for summer 2023.

Video Guide

In case you missed them, here are Episode 1Episode 2 and Episode 3 in our Making Accessible PDFs: Community College Series.

Key Takeaways From This Episode

This document was originally made in Canva. Canva forms are just not accessible. Multiple rounds of testing were required. The combination of issues made for a time-consuming and laborious process with no quick solutions.

Initial Run of the Accessibility Checker

From the start we uncovered a number of basic issues needing correction:

  • Reading Order. ‘Figure’, ‘H1’, ‘LI’ tags were not in the right order, making the document hard to read. Organizing these creates a nice flow.
  • Unnecessary Tags. There were extra ‘div’ tags that didn’t serve a purpose. Cleaning these is essential in making accessible PDFs. Less is more!
  • Tagging Tips: Change ‘figure’ tags to ‘p’ tags when they hold text, and condense ‘p’ tags that separate text unnecessarily. Artifact unused ‘p’ tags to clean things up.
  • Table of Contents. The existing table was not serving as a functional Table of Contents. Manually adjust tags to link to the correct pages for better navigation.
Creating tags for a table of contents in a PDF
  • Images Without Alt Text. Adding alt text to photos is crucial for PDF accessibility for users with visual impairments.
  • List Items Misbehaving: When text meant for paragraphs gets included as list items, manually separate each of them.

Check the Metadata

From the main Menu, select Document Properties. From here we can review and edit the PDF properties.

Editing document properties in a PDF

Through this, we found out the PDF was made in Canva. Canva is famous for poorly tagging. Check out our blog post on how to make a Canva document accessible.

Canva Issues

There were a number of inconsistent error messages. We fixed some, they kept appearing, we fixed more, and received more error messages. Major confusion!

  • Link and Notation Nesting: We found incorrect nesting of structure elements, specifically between links and notations.
  • Inappropriate Use of Span Tags: Multiple errors indicated the inappropriate use of span tags. The span tags were not mapped properly, causing role mapping issues. We had to manually go through the link tree and delete them.
  • Keyboard Navigation: We experienced bugs in the keyboard navigation while editing so many ‘span’ tags. This made it frustrating to move quickly through the structure tree.
  • Element Placement: We changed the block element to inline for images that also serve as links, further cleaning up errors.
Changing a block element to inline element in a PDF

Concluding Advice for Creators of Accessible PDFs

Please avoid creating PDF documents in Canva. Canva documents are not accessible. Also, limit the complexity and size of your PDF. This was an 8 page PDF. The heavy visual load made it hard to find and correct errors efficiently.

I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

Making a PDF Accessible: Episode 03| Moorpark Community College

Welcome to episode three on making college PDFs accessible. Today, we focus on Moorpark Community College’s website. We look at their course wellness document to improve its digital inclusivity.

Video Guide

In case you missed them, here are Episode 1 and Episode 2 in our Making Accessible PDFs: Community College Series.

Key Takeaways from this Episode

This form was buggy right from the top and required a number of fixes. Here’s a summary what we did to make this PDF accessible.

Extracting pages to get to the “Prepare Form” options

The PDF seemed to be an old version of the form that wasn’t cooperating with the new version of Acrobat. We extracted the pages from each other and recombined them to create a new PDF. Editing went smoothly from there.

Proper tag structure

We used the auto-tagger. While it added some tags it wasn’t perfect. Every Form tag should be nested inside of a P tag.

An accessible PDF shows all form tags nested inside of a P tag

Tagging references (adding a link to reference)

Under ‘Prepare for Accessibility’, select the Reading Order Tool to create a reference. Next, select the content needing the reference, right click, create link, use page view and invisible rectangle, and hit next. Scroll down to where you want the link to go, select it, hit create link. This particular reference tag will link to the note.

Creating a link in an accessible PDF

Fixing tagged annotations

From the Accessibility Tags panel on the right, click options, select find, choose unmarked annotations, find. When the link is found, tag it and close.

Fixing titles

From the start we noted primary language, title, and character encoding fails. After reformatting and getting our p tags properly nested, we were able to fix the primary language and title fails. Just right click Title – Failed and select fix. Easy pass.

Fixing the title fail after reformatting p tags in a PDF

Creating tag from selection

This breaks apart the text from the form field, creating an accessible PDF. Select the text you want to tag, navigate to the Accessibility Tags panel, choose options, then select create tag from selection. To finalize the section, artifact the blank lines and delete their p tags.

How to separate text field from form field by creating tag from selection.

Embedding Fonts

Navigate to All Tools, use print production, add printer marks, preflight menu, fix font encoding, embed missing fonts.

Embedding fonts from the preflight menu in Adobe Acrobat

Fixing character encoding

This is a little tricky so save your PDF in case it breaks. Select edit from the top right, and delete the items out. In this case the check boxes are still in the form. We don’t need the placeholders. We deleted the square text in the background to fix this fail.

Deleting the background text to fix character codes in a PDF

Set PDF UA

Run the PAC tool to ensure PDF UA and WCAG compliance.

Running the PAC tool on a PDF to ensure PDF/UA accessibility

Conclusion

This review involved some interesting fixes that transformed Moorpark’s existing document into an accessible PDF. The solutions provided ensure better user experience and make it compliant with standards like PDF UA and Section 508. Remember, accessibility takes time but is vital for inclusivity.

I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

Making a PDF accessible: Episode 02 | Oxnard Community College

In today’s episode, we explore PDF accessibility at Oxnard College. This is part two of our series on making college PDFs accessible. Let’s see what we can find.

Video Guide

In case you missed them, here are Episode 1, Episode 3 and Episode 4 in our Making Accessible PDFs: Community College Series.

Key Issues with Oxnard College PDFs

Most PDFs on Oxnard College’s website lack accessibility features. We downloaded a 362-page document as an example. Only the first two pages were tagged, making it non-accessible. Here’s how we went about checking and fixing another file.

Steps to Improve PDF Accessibility

We downloaded a press release PDF. Running an accessibility checker showed minor errors. Notably, it lacked proper headings.

  1. Auto-Tagging: Auto-tagging saved time. It automatically inserted document and section tags, along with heading levels.
  2. Manual Checks: Some elements like pesky links and untagged content required manual adjustments.
  3. Validation: The final check revealed missing fonts and metadata. These were corrected.

I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

Making College PDFs Accessible: Episode 01 | Ventura Community College

Today, we’re exploring a key aspect of digital inclusivity – PDF accessibility. While reviewing Ventura Community College’s PDF, we identified areas of improvement. Let’s dive in!

Video Guide

In case you missed them, here are Episode 2Episode 3 and Episode 4 in our Making Accessible PDFs: Community College Series.

Steps for Ensuring PDF Accessibility

  1. Check for Tags: A key step in a PDF review is checking for tags. In our Ventura College PDF review, no tags were available, highlighting the need for accessibility improvements.
  2. Using the Auto Tagger: This tool helps create a basic structure in PDFs. However, ensure you’re using the new auto tagger for optimal results.
  3. Correct Tag Placement: Organizing tags properly ensures a smooth reader experience. Remove unnecessary tags, like section tags.
  4. Artifacting Unnecessary Elements: Some content may not be relevant for screen readers. Mark them as an artifact.
  5. Creating Form Fields: Forms within PDFs need to be accessible. Create clear tags for forms to help users navigate them efficiently.
  6. Using the Reading Order Tool: This tool can assist with correct tag placement. However, caution is advised, as it can sometimes create issues.
  7. Embedding Fonts: Ensuring fonts are embedded in the document is essential for accessibility.
  8. Setting PDF UA Identifier: This confirms the document is accessible under PDF/UA standards.

The review showcased the importance of making PDFs accessible. While Ventura College’s document had gaps, the solutions provided can make it compliant with standards like PDF UA and WCAG 2.1.

Inclusivity in document design ensures everyone has equal access to information. For colleges and institutions, this is crucial. Not only does it foster a sense of belonging, but it also ensures compliance with legal standards.

The world is moving towards a more inclusive future. Let’s ensure our digital spaces are part of this journey. Remember, accessibility isn’t just about compliance; it’s about ensuring everyone feels welcome.

I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!