Web-delivered documents such as the Portable Document Format (PDF) can present challenges for end-users and for any business or organization looking to achieve a functional standard of accessibility by conforming with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA or higher.
Although PDF authoring tools, such as Adobe Acrobat, InDesign, and countless others, have advanced to help reduce the steps required in order to make a PDF accessible, unless specific steps are taken by content authors, PDFs are commonly generated in a way that makes them inaccessible, especially for users relying on assistive technologies to view documents. In many cases, PDFs get created from 3rd party applications such as Microsoft Word, which produce PDFs via a printable output option. PDFs generated through this common approach do not take accessibility best-practices into consideration and require additional software and steps to be taken in order to make them fully accessible.
W3C provides several technology-specific techniques for conforming PDFs with WCAG 2.0. Each of these 23 techniques relate to one or more success criteria. Authoring accessible PDFs requires that certain checks to be made, which, for all intents and purposes, mirror the checks and "tests" that are required for making websites accessible.
Manual Remediation Services
As a managed service, AudioEye offers manual remediation of PDFs through an approach that is hands-off for our customers. Our team uses a mix of PDF Authoring tools to run a technical analysis of each document and apply remediations before being functionally tested by individuals using Assistive Technology (AT) such as screen readers to validate document accessibility and usability. Currently, these services are delivered on a Time & Materials basis to our customers.
While this is an effective approach to eliminating issues of accessibility, for many organizations, it simply isn't cost-effective, fast enough, or scalable. In 2017, AudioEye will be rolling out an efficient, cloud-based solution for testing and remediating PDF documents.
AudioEye PDF Accessibility Compliance Services Include:
- Automated PDF to HTML Conversion: Currently, when enabled, AudioEye generates an HTML version of the content within a PDF document at the time a document is requested. This is achieved through a multi-step Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Image Recognition process. Via the browser, the alternative HTML format presents a more accessible version of the document, which is made available to screen reader users and users taking advantage of the tools supplied from the Ally Toolbar, including the AudioEye Player. This solution is particularly effective when dealing with high volumes of text-based PDFs with basic document structure and limited visual elements.
- HTML Accessibility Optimization*: Once converted, the resulting output may be optimized via the PDF Editor made available from the Digital Accessibility Platform. PDF to HTML conversion may also be initiated directly from the platform. Document structure and dynamic attribute tagging including section headers, alternative text, among other optimizations, can be configured via an easy-to-use editor that allows non-technical users to apply remediations and resolve issues of accessibility in their PDF documents. Any remediations configured are applied to the document source as served from the AudioEye AWS Infrastructure.
- Accessible Document Template Management for High Volume, API-Driven Output*: Documents configured and optimized via the Digital Accessibility Platform may be configured as a template, which is then paired with client APIs for generating any given number of accessible PDFs derived from the single stored template.
- HTML to Accessible PDF Output*: HTML optimized via the Digital Accessibility Platform may be exported into an Accessible PDF format, allowing users to retain portability for record keeping and archival.
- Help Desk: When users require unaltered original PDF formats for portability, record keeping, and/or archival and formats supplied from AudioEye are insufficient, AudioEye provides its customers with a dedicated accessibility Help Desk, which allows users to request accessible document versions on an ad hoc basis. When requested, AudioEye will manually provision remediations and deliver accessible PDFs as they are requested.
*Advanced accessibility optimization and document template management controls coming soon (2017).
If you would like to learn more about our PDF solutions, please contact us.