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10 Common PDF Accessibility Errors and Best Practices Checklist

10 Common PDF Accessibility Errors and Best Practices Checklist
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You must have gauged by the title that this post talks about how to fix PDF accessibility issues. But why bother about PDF accessibility errors and fix them? It is your responsibility towards your users and a legal obligation that the PDF you upload must be accessible.

Physically challenged users can read your PDF with the help of assistive technologies like screen readers and alternative input devices. Therefore, it becomes necessary to recognize and fix the accessibility errors in your PDF.

10 Common PDF Accessibility Mistakes and Best Practices Checklist:

Here is a list of common PDF errors that prevent it from being accessible. Go through them so you can avoid them while working on your next PDF.

1. Logos and Implanted Text Not Converted to Searchable

The logos and implanted text in the images of your PDF can’t be read with assistive technology. Therefore, don’t forget to convert the logos and implanted text into searchable text.

The images which don’t depict any particular information must also contain alternative text descriptions. In fact, all the multimedia needs to be described with alternative text for screen readers to read or detect it.

2. Not Tagging the Headings

Most PDF present their text with headings and sub-headings. But they are not often tagged. However, the screen reader significantly relies on headings to understand the document’s structure. If it doesn’t understand the sub-headings, it can’t guide the user on how to navigate through the document.

Ensure that you fix such accessibility errors in your PDF. Your <H1> is to be followed by <H2> and so on.

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3. Not Tagging PDF Document

Tagging a PDF document enables its sections to be divided into a proper structure. This logical order is vital for the screen reader to read the information. PDF Tagging also helps navigate the document without the mouse and with the help of the keyboard only.

Tagging the document provides excellent accessibility to the document. On the other hand, an untagged document can pile up more PDF accessibility issues. So always tag your document.

4. Not Including Enough Instructions for Interactive Aspects

The interactive aspects in a PDF are the fields and boxes which need to be checked or filled. The user needs proper marking and detailed instructions on how to fill or tick these areas. If you don’t put detailed instructions, the user may get confused and commit an error.

Therefore put enough instructions and alternative text that makes it easier for the user to complete the task. Also, avoid placing a time limit on filling in the information.

5. Not Giving Description of Image

PDF creators sometimes upload PDFs without the description of informative Images. The purpose of the image is lost without the textual description. Therefore it’s vital to fix this accessibility error. Also, the screen reader cannot render the image description without a proper textual description.

An image is worth a thousand words for a PDF only if an accurate description accompanies it. It has no value for visually impaired users without a description.

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6. Document Language Not Defined

Not defining the document language defy the accessibility purpose as it hampers the accuracy of text rendered by assistive technologies. The assistive technology may incorrectly read the pronunciation because the visual browser doesn’t display characters and scripts.

Also, it becomes easy for media players to correctly show captions, which helps visually impaired people understand content correctly.

7. Links Not Working with Keyboard

Another PDF accessibility issue that is often overlooked is the links, footnotes, and content tables not working with the keyboard. They can be clicked with a mouse only. The hand cursor comes on these types of links when you hover over the document. But you can’t click on them with the keyboard.

This happens when you don’t tag the link, so they render it as plain text by the assistive devices. Always ensure that a link can be clicked with both mouse and keyboard.

8. Inappropriate Color Contrast

For those with color vision deficiencies (CVD), readability is critical. To ensure your document can be seen clearly, WCAG SC 1.4.3 “Contrast (Minimum)” requires that text have a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for standard size and 3:1 for large-scale typefaces when compared to its background colors – making testing essential!

The Bureau of Internet Accessibility’s Color Contrast Accessibility Validator provides an easy way to check compliance instantly and free of charge; creating documents accessible by all viewers in no time at all!

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9. Non-Interactive Form

Ensure your PDF is interactive with Run Form Field Recognition to identify form fields properly. This ensures that users have the ability to complete or submit the form electronically – even if there’s no mechanism in place for submitting it online!

Also, make sure you craft accurate descriptions for each field too, so all parties know exactly how data should be entered into those areas of the document.

10. Compatibility Issues

In some cases, PDF documents may not be able to open on certain devices due to compatibility issues with software versions or hardware requirements. This can often be resolved by making sure you have an up-to-date version of a compatible viewer installed on your device before attempting to open any type of PDF file.

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Final Words

Fix these common PDF accessibility errors to simplify your document’s accessibility. The tool or software you choose to remediate your PDF needs to be quick and easy. Also, it must comply with the accessibility standards and guidelines, including section 508 and WCAG 2.0.

By understanding common PDF errors, you can better troubleshoot any issues when they arise with your documents. It’s also a good idea to have the latest version of compatible viewer software installed on your device to prevent any compatibility issues when opening PDF files.

With the right knowledge and tools, you can ensure that all of your PDF documents appear as intended.

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