PDF is a popular file format for sharing documents, but it’s not always accessible to people with disabilities. Creating an accessible PDF can be daunting if you’re new to the concept of PDF accessibility and the tools available to help make your PDFs more accessible. Fortunately, there are many best practices that you can follow to make sure your PDFs are ready for anyone who interacts with them.
PDF accessibility is a requirement across agencies and industries. Not only does it enhance the customer experience, but it also helps with conversion. If you want to create a pdf, there are some things you need to include that constitute the best practices of pdf accessibility. In this article, you’ll learn what PDF accessibility is and the best practices for it this 2022 and beyond.
What Is PDF Accessibility?
PDF accessibility is the ability of a document to be read by people with disabilities. One can achieve this using specialized software that transforms the pdf file into an accessible format, such as HTML or plain text. This software is called assistive technologies. Assistive technologies are software or hardware that enables those with disabilities to access digital information. Assistive technologies include screen readers, screen magnifiers, and Braille displays.
There are practices for PDF accessibility. Some of the best practices for PDF accessibility for 2022 and beyond include:
1. Using Metadata For Discoverability
Discoverability is a crucial factor in the success of any content, as is for PDFs. Discoverability is a measure of how easily a resource can be found. In the context of electronic documents, discoverability is accomplished by using metadata. With this, you’ll have an easier time getting people to find it and then actually read it.
One of the best ways to help people with disabilities access your document is to use metadata for discoverability. It means adding descriptive information about your PDF that can be used to find and index the file by search engines and other digital tools. The most common type of metadata is called a title page, which includes basic information about the document, such as its author, subject matter, publication date, etc. It’s essential to insert this type of metadata in any PDF file you create so that people with disabilities can find and use your document effortlessly.
2. Having Alt Texts For Images
Alt text is a description of the image displayed when you hover over it or when the image cannot be displayed for some reason. It gives people who cannot see the image (because they don’t have access to technology that enables them to see it) an idea of what the image shows.
It is an essential accessibility practice that every website should follow. You can also use the title attribute to provide a short description of the image, which is helpful for people who use assistive technologies to navigate your site. You can write your alt text or use the auto-generated one (if available).
3. Well-Structured Headings
Another pdf accessibility best practice for 2022 is the use of well-structured headings. Headings must be well-structured and follow a logical hierarchy. Otherwise, readers may struggle to find the information they need. The most important information should be placed at the top of the page, and less important information should be towards the bottom.
Headings are also used to help readers navigate through content and make it conducive. Readers can use the headings to jump back up or down several levels in a document. Sighted users can identify these headings using heading styles (e.g., H1 through H6).
4. Using PDF Tags
Implementing PDF tags is an excellent way to ensure that screen readers can read your document. This practice makes it easier for visually impaired people to access your information. Screen readers use tags to help users navigate and understand the content of a document. For example, if you have a list of items that are numbered, you can use tags to tell the screen reader what each number means. The screen reader will then read out loud the numbers in order and allow users to navigate between them with ease.
Similarly, if you have links in a document, you can use tags to tell the screen reader what link it is. It will help users quickly follow those links, rather than clicking on them repeatedly until they find out what they do. Thus, using tags is another pdf accessibility best practice for 2022 and beyond.
5. Accessible Digital Forms
Digital forms must be accessible to achieve PDF accessibility. Accessible PDFs can be used by anyone, regardless of their ability. It is especially essential for disabled people who may have trouble completing forms without the assistance of assistive technologies such as screen reading software.
PDF form accessibility ensures that no one is excluded from using your digital forms and documents, regardless of their ability or disability.
PDF accessibility isn’t challenging to implement. It just requires some planning and attention to detail. And once you start making your PDFs more accessible, it’ll be easier for everyone to use them, including students who need them for school. So if you’re looking for ways to enhance the reader experience for your digital information, ensure your pdfs are accessible.