PDF Accessibility - Why Is It A Priority?PDF Accessibility - Why Is It A Priority?

In the age of the web ruling the world, accessibility to content is mandatory to create an impact on your customers. With a hoard of changes and enhancements to accommodate your site to be disability friendly to deepen your online presence, chances are that not all of the content available is accessible. This might be a challenge for the differently abled to participate in the digital world. For the visually impaired, who use screen readers to gather information and were prepared to wait for an accessible copy, this is no longer the case. People demand information immediately in the form of an accessible pdf of the latest information.

PDF is a popular and most widespread used format for documents and forms. The format has advantages of being professional and controlled content, hence not allowing easy changes – thus becoming the go to format for legal documents, contracts or publications. However, its usability is restricted for people with disabilities, unless a few issues are addressed. The multitude of usage makes it all the more necessary to have pdf accessibility for everyone.

PDFs, if not made accessible, can have a number of barriers for visually impaired people using screen readers. Images or scanned text/image cannot be perceived by the users while trying to discern it online. Bank statements, train bookings, phone bills – many more documents cannot be accessed and this is a violation of their right. Hence it becomes the business' duty to provide accessible services to all.

How having accessible pdf might help your business grow? Right to access to information is a basic right irrespective of the person. Good customers are free marketing for your business. Offering accessible services allows visually disabled customers to operate and manage their accounts using digital media. Offering such services and easy access to pdf ensures a positive user experience and acts as a good cause from your end. Customers have a load of options in the form of HTML, XML and so on. However, pdf accessibility is the most important owing to the ability to download and analyze the document with ease. Improving your accessibility services makes the content more usable for other users as well.

Now that the importance of accessible pdf is understood, ensuring that all documents are pdf accessible is the next big step. This is not possible by vetting every document which goes on to the website. There are a number of international standards which have issues a set of pdf techniques to ensure pdf accessibility. Adhering to these set of regulations will ascertain accessibility.

Technology gives life to unimaginable thoughts and this is just one of them. Automating the process of accessibility is one of the best ways to provide electronic data to everyone. A number of tools and accessibility services are available. Acrobat DC Pro is one such tool which removes barriers and converts into an accessible pdf. However, this is not 100% fool proof and hence not dependable. Now businesses have shifted to automating the process themselves. Tagging a pdf at the sub layer level and validating if the tag structure meets the compliance standards ensures complete usability across all people. Of course, this works if it is done at the scale required and with the cost effectiveness in mind.

Businesses should strive to reach out and serve their customer irrespective of their ability or disability. This is where the true nature of the web lies – everything at the click of your finger.

           

by Maria Hernandez
References and Bibliography

Maria Hernandez

Springbord - Accessibility Services

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