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NewFormat AB

PDF standards make the world work




Our solutions are based on
tested, reliable, and highly accessible software solutions.

NewFormat is Appointed Reseller and Solution Partner in
Nordic (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway)
and
Baltic Region (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania)
of leading CommonLook PDF technology
from NetCentric Technologies Inc., USA.




Accessibility - Icon

Accessible PDF


A fully PDF/UA compliant PDF can be just as
accessible as a WCAG compliant website




Passed Your Accessibility Check? Don’t Be So Sure.

NetCentric Technologies - CommonLook Service - Compliant with ISO 14289-1 / PDFUA, U.S. Section 508, U.S. HHS, WCAG2.0/2.1 - Combo Icons

    The EU Web Accessibility Directive ensures that all users
    have equal access to information and functionality on the web.

    Barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to a website
    by people with disabilities can be considered discrimination.

    Avoid litigation risks by ensuring all PDF documents
    on your web are accessible for everyone.

    PDF documents complying with
    the ISO Standard 14289 (PDF/UA) or "accessible PDF"
    are universally accessible for everyone.




NetCentric Technologies - CommonLook - Company Logo

Passed Your Accessibility Check? Don’t Be So Sure.

Why does my PDF file pass Adobe Acrobat’s Accessibility Checker,
but fails using CommonLook’s PDF or PAC 3?

Even if your PDF passes the Acrobat check,
you could still be at risk for providing inaccessible content to your end users.

(Join the CommonLook blog for PDF/UA professionals!)


    How to check if a PDF is accessible?

    Accessible PDFs help disseminate the content of the document to everyone
    and protect the organization from accessibility-related lawsuits.

    If a PDF cannot be read and navigated by everyone,
    including people with vision impairments or other disabilities,
    then the PDF is not accessible.

    The tricky thing about accessible and inaccessible PDF documents is that they,
    in most cases, look the same. In other words, they are visually identical.

    Therefore, it’s almost impossible for most users to tell whether the PDF
    they are looking at is accessible by merely looking at their physical view.


    3 ways to quickly check whether a PDF is accessible

    1. Select the text in the PDF
    2. This is the easiest and most convenient way to check whether a PDF is accessible.

      If there is text in the PDF, try selecting the text or select all using
      "Edit > Select All" from the top menu in Adobe Acrobat.

      If instead of the text, the entire page gets selected
      (this is the most common case),
      then that is an image file and is, therefore, not an accessible PDF.

      However, please note that this is a rudimentary method to test accessibility.
      If a PDF correctly selects text, it doesn’t mean that it is accessible;
      it can still be an inaccessible PDF.


    3. Check if the PDF document is tagged
    4. One of the most important characteristics of any accessible PDF is its tagging.
      Tags add behind-the-scenes coding to a PDF.
      Every tag identifies the type of content and stores some related attributes.
      In addition, tags also arrange the document into a hierarchical structure.

      An untagged PDF is not accessible,
      so if you don’t find any tags in a PDF, then it’s inaccessible.


Below is a screenshot of the tags panel of an inaccessible PDF document:

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC Accessibility Checker Report: Untagged PDF, Inaccessible PDF - Picture

Click on picture

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC Accessibility Checker Report:
"No Tags Available"

Recommended action:
Create/add tags with Adobe Acrobat Pro DC or other suitable PDF editor


    1. Check the PDF document through any of the tools listed below
    2. This is the best way to check whether a given PDF is accessible
      and compliant with accessibility standards and guidelines.




Passed Your Accessibility Check? Don’t Be So Sure.

NetCentric Technologies - CommonLook Service - Compliant with ISO 14289-1 / PDFUA, U.S. Section 508, U.S. HHS, WCAG2.0/2.1 - Combo Icons

Why does my PDF file pass Adobe Acrobat’s Accessibility Checker,
but fails using CommonLook’s PDF or PAC 3?

Even if your PDF passes the Acrobat check,
you could still be at risk for providing inaccessible content to your end users.


    Achieving Fully Accessible and Compliant PDF Documents

    "Why does CommonLook or PDF Accessibility Checker 3 (PAC 3)
    tell me I’m failing, when the PDF passes in Acrobat?"

    Acrobat doesn’t test for conformance against
    all globally recognized accessibility standards.

    Even if your PDF passes the Acrobat Accessibility Check,
    you could still be at risk for providing inaccessible content to your end users.


    Sure, Acrobat checks 'stuff', but not to the level required for
    accessibility standards conformance.

    Acrobat will even let you save a compliance report,
    but that report does not warrant your work meets 100% of
    the checkpoints of PDF/UA, WCAG, Section 508 or HHS.

    In fact, in older versions of Acrobat, when you choose to run a
    'U.S. Section 508 check', after it was done testing, a disclaimer
    would come up telling you that Acrobat wasn’t actually certifying
    that the document passes at that level.

    In newer versions Adobe has removed the disclaimer,
    but they’ve also removed the option to run a '508 check'.
    Now it’s just a 'Full check'.

    Note: 'Full check' brings the impression that Acrobat undertakes
    a very thorough-going conformance testing against any established
    accessibility standards, but it turns out Acrobat does not!


    Counting on Adobe Acrobat alone is a huge mistake.
    Instead, use one of the proven third-party testing tools
    that guarantee your PDF file meet these standards:

    Specifically:

    • PDF Accessibility Checker 3 (PAC 3)

    • A free tool for accessibility testing of PDF documents.
      PAC 3 lets you test PDF documents against the PDF/UA standard (only)
      and provides an accessibility report in PDF format.
      The PDF report that is produced is not PDF/UA compliant.


    • CommonLook PDF Validator

    • Free tool that works as a plugin for Adobe Acrobat Pro.
      Provides a full listing of the accessibility checkpoints that
      passed or failed so you can quickly drill down to the areas
      that need to be addressed.


    • CommonLook PDF

    • Tool provided for a fee, but well worth the investment.
      Allows you to fix many of accessibility issues right in CommonLook PDF.
      Provides specialized tools to ensure PDFs are meeting compliance standards.


      Note! CommonLook Validator and CommonLook PDF are designed to
      be used by remediators to ensure their work is 100% compliant and
      allows you to test against the following standards:

      • ISO 32000-1 or ISO 32000-2, PDF

      • ISO 14289-1, PDF/UA

      • W3C/WCAG 2.0/2.1 (A and AA)

      • U.S. Section 508

      • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. HHS

      Note! Compliance reports generated by CommonLook tools are
      comprehensive for each checkpoint and the HTML reports
      are fully accessible.


    Of course, no matter what tool you are using to test a PDF,
    there are still manual checks that need to be done.

    For example, a machine can’t automatically determine that
    the reading order is correct in a PDF.

    That requires someone actually checking the order of the tags
    in comparison to the physical view of the document.

    Similarly, verifying that the correct tags are being used for the content,
    as well as testing for color use and contrast, are manual checks as well.


    So where do some of the real failures come into play?
    Here are other discrepancies from Adobe Acrobat's Accessibility Checker
    you should be aware of....

    • Acrobat (and all checkers) will fail a 'Figure tag' that’s lacking 'Alternative text',
      but if a Figure tag does have Alternate text it will automatically pass
      the Acrobat check.

      In CommonLook, however, this becomes a 'user verification' item because
      CommonLook wants you to make sure that the alternative text
      provided for the image is accurate for that image.


    • Acrobat’s implementation of mutually exclusive radio buttons is
      inherently inaccessible because, for mutual exclusivity to be achieved,
      the radio buttons need to be in the same group and, therefore,
      they all have the same name and the same tooltip.

      While some screen readers will compensate for this issue,
      it goes against accessibility standards.


    • Speaking of tooltips, similar to Alternative text for Figures,
      Acrobat doesn’t require the tester to verify tooltip accuracy.

      So, again, there could be complete gibberish in the tooltip for
      a form annotation and it’ll pass in Acrobat.


    • Acrobat doesn’t require Alternative text for Links.
      Without getting too technical, WCAG 2.0, Guideline 1.1,
      requires Alternative text for 'non-text content'.

      Link annotations are actually not text, so Link tags need to have Alternative text
      (and/or the link annotation itself needs to have the Contents attribute).

      Adobe Acrobat won’t ask you to verify the ListNumbering Attribute
      (which is important for ordered lists).


    • There are other things, too, that Acrobat won’t test against such as validating
      the 'Tables of Contents' have been tagged and structured correctly.

      Acrobat also doesn’t test against ISO 32000-1 (or ISO 32000-2),
      the standard on 'how to make a PDF', and it also doesn’t prompt
      the tester to check the accuracy of the metadata including the title,
      language and any language changes that may be in the PDF.






    In conclusion

    PDF compliance can be difficult to understand and there are many misconceptions
    out there in regard to what is required to ensure PDF documents are accessible.

    Organizations are best served to make sure their documents meet the standards
    and testing using one of the free tools above is a good first step.

    Don’t make the mistake of tagging your PDF documents using
    Adobe Acrobat Pro and think that your accessibility work is done.


    Many organizations require their PDFs pass the "Full Check" in
    Acrobat Accessibility Checker before they are posted online or
    otherwise made available to people.

    It’s important that remediators and testers know that
    the Acrobat check won’t guarantee standards conformance.

    That being the case, even if your PDF passes the Acrobat Accessibility Checker,
    you could still be at risk for providing inaccessible content to your end users.

    So testers, beware!




PDF/UA - Icon

Recommended reading on PDF/UA
The ISO Standard for Accessible PDF Documents and Forms

PDF/UA in a Nutshell - Front Cover - Picture     PDF/UA Flyer Front Cover - Picture

(For download of these guides, click on the pictures above)



PDF/UA - Icon



PDF/UA - Icon




PDF/UA - Icon




Access for All - PAC 3 Check - Error - Does not comply with PDF/UA - Not an accessible PDF - Banner



For more information contact NewFormat


NewFormat AB
Smörblommegränd 14, SE-165 72 Hässelby (Stockholm), Sweden
tel:+46 (0)70 631 53 01

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All product names, trademarks and registered trademarks
are property of their respective owners.



NetCentric Technologies - CommonLook Service - Compliant with ISO 14289-1 / PDFUA, U.S. Section 508, U.S. HHS, WCAG2.0/2.1 - Combo Icons