How to Create and Test Accessible PDFs

Tuesday, July 30, 2019
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM Eastern Time Zone


Federal agencies generate millions of documents each year that they post online. The Portable Document Format (PDF) is one of the most popular formats used to publish or disseminate information and materials electronically. Unfortunately, many PDFs are created in a manner that is not accessible to people with disabilities. This webinar will explain how to create, test, and remediate PDFs to ensure access for people with disabilities and conformance with the Section 508 Standards.

Nicshan Floyd, of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Accessibility Systems & Technology (OAST) will conduct this session and address common questions about PDF accessibility and review access issues and solutions. In addition, he will offer best practices and techniques from the Accessible Electronic Document Community of Practice. Attendees will learn how to discover accessibility issues by manually examining different components of PDFs such as the Content layer, Tags layer, and Logical Reading Order. They will also learn to utilize Adobe Acrobat's Accessibility Checker to validate and remediate identified accessibility problems.

Questions can be submitted in advance of the session or can be posed during the live webinar. This session is intended for those involved in creating and working with PDFs for government agencies as well as other entities. Participants are encouraged to submit their questions in advance of the session.

Continuing Education Recognition Available

Certificate Credit hours
Certificate of Attendance 1.5


Nicshan Floyd, Team Lead of Management Services, U.S Department of Homeland Security/Office of Accessibility Systems & Technology

Questions for presenters:

1 For complex tables with more than 50 cells, how do you organize the PDF so that the reading order is correct? How do you properly tag PDFs that were created outside of Adobe? How do you avoid tagging random elements in your document that don't need to be tagged to avoid a tagged annotation failure? Are there any free services online that will help with making documents accessible? Is there a trusted company that handles making PDFs accessible?
2 Is there a place to get certified in accessible PDFs?
3 I create interactive forms using InDesign. It was recently brought to my attention that the Signature Field in my forms cannot be filled in using various web browsers. For instance, the form can be filled in using Internet Explorer but the form cannot be filled in using Chrome and Safari. To acquire the customer "signature", I changed the Signature Field to a Text Box and made both boxes 'required'. When the revised forms are uploaded, the text box is functional and can be filled out using all browsers. My question is why does the Signature Field show correctly in Adobe Acrobat and the field can be filled in a specific browser and fail using the others?
4 What is the best way to ensure that the accessible elements included in powerpoint slides (alt text, etc.) are carried over when converted to a PDF via "save as" and "print to PDF"?
5 Are Adobe and Nuance features comparable for creating accessible PDFs? Which software is the preferred?
6 I end up scanning a lot of older reports that are typed but are typically carbon copies of the original. I have mixed results when running the OCR function in Adobe Acrobat. Are there any tips to how to be more successful in scanning and making these documents accessible?
7 Can you please explain the differences between the tags panel, content panel, and "z-order" panel in Adobe Acrobat, and which panels should be the focus when it comes to making sure they are in proper reading order? Years ago I was told that the Z-order panel mattered the most. Now I'm under the impression that the tags panel is the one that truly controls the reading order when it comes to AT, but I still see a lot of forums and help documents referring to the z-order panel and how that should be in order as well. HELP!
8 Can you go over annotated tags -- footnotes? How to mark footnotes correctly? Thank you.
9 I have a pdf document that passes the Adobe Acrobat full check. Reading order is perfect. When I add the fillable form fields and then select the Read Aloud feature I can hear the document text and the form tool tips. How can I avoid this "double" speech?
10 Is it possible to check for accessibility using Nitro Pro instead of Adobe? Any limitations with using the native pdf creator now included in Microsoft Office products?
11 Is it possible to check for accessibility using Nitro Pro instead of Adobe? Any limitations with converting to pdf using the native function now provided in Microsoft Office products?
12 Do vendors such as Nuance PDF already have built-in tools to proof PDF for compliance? What companies offer such tools?
13 For hyperlinks in PDF documents, is descriptive text sufficient or are there other ways to address limitations of Adobe Acrobat?
14 When a PDF document includes headers and footers, must they be included in the reading order of the document?
15 When creating a PDF form, must the text and form fields be included in the logical reading order of the document, even if it may seem be repetitive?
16 When creating radio buttons in PDF forms using Adobe Acrobat, are there ways to address the labeling limitations of Adobe Acrobat? If not,are there suggestions to meet the success criteria if using Adobe Acrobat?
17 If the general formatting of a PDF document is not accessible, does the source PDF need to be remediated or reformatted first? For example, list structures, use of color, color contrast issues.
18 Is there a minimum font size for PDF documents and forms? If so, does this apply to all text, including headers and footers?
19 If an inaccessible PDF document is reformatted into an accessible HTML web page, but the inaccessible PDF document is hyperlinked on the same page, is the page accessible using the revised Section 508 standards?
20 I want a paper
21 What PDF software helps users create better accessible, compressed, OCR recognized, support placement of electronic signatures and editing capabilities with images and objects? Is there a best PDF create/edit software list available or a PDF create/edit comparison tool available for federal decision makers?
22 Is Foxit PhantomPDF an accessible alternative to creating PDFs with Adobe Acrobat or InDesign?
23 If someone has built a flowchart or diagram that includes grouped items, should each item have its own alt text and also the main grouped box?
24 Is there a limit to how long alt text should be?
25 How can I make charts and slides work better for people who may be colorblind? What can we use tools should we use to illustrate how color blindness affects vision?
26 How can I write accessible equations/formulas? What software or resource is available to create accessible equations?
27 Can a screen reader read text boxes in the source Word document, then converted into a PDF?
28 What is the best way to tag a table of contents?
29 What is the best way to handle footnotes/references?
30 Do table of contents need link tags?
31 What are the 508 requirements for making a video recording of training sessions accessible?
32 When exactly are headings needed? What is the best rule of thumb? Do we have to create a url list at the end of a PDF document for the web? This seems redundant.
33 Are there any best practices for dashboard visualizations?
34 The original document is in MS PPT format and saved as pdf file. However, it seems any slides with inserting SmartArt show errors/warning. Would like to learn on how to avoid or fix those.
35 As a Title II agency, we have an archiving policy which requires us to archive pdf. For those that are already archived that are not accessible, whats the requirement and do we need to go back through all these archived docs and make them accessible?
36 What are the ADA requirements for redacted content?
37 Sometimes after running a full Accessibility Check on our interactive PDF documents in Acrobat DC, our team members will receive the issue, "Character encoding," under the Accessibility Checker's Accessibility Report, for fonts found in their document. The suggested repair for this issue to re-open the source file in the authoring program (InDesign or other), and replace the fonts there. Is there a best practice or an acceptable strategy to repair the issue in Acrobat DC, rather than the time-consuming process of returning to the authoring program, editing the file, and then re-exporting the PDF? Thanks for your help!
38 Are Adobe Acrobat and FoxIt PhantomPDF accessibility features similar?
39 An increasingly frustrating issue for me is trying to use the Edit PDF or Fill & Sign features in Adobe Acrobat. they just don't work for me. My question is; Will this podcast show me how to either work around this ssue or show me (and the others attending) what it is about the document/pdf that does not allow me to edit or sign, other than using a digital signature?
40 What platform will this webinar be hosted on?
41 Will Acrobat DC or Acrobat Pro 11 be used? Some of us are still stuck with version 11. Thx.
42 I regularly have to mark documents for redaction as part of processing Freedom of Information Act requests. Is there a way to apply the redactions made to documents that have started as 508 compliant, so that we do not lose 508 compliance? Also, is there a way to make the "redaction code" information show up with 508 compliant "alternate text".
43 -Can you please provide legal ADA Accessible templates in PDF or Word format (that when exported to PDF renders to an ADA compliant PDF)? -Can you suggest online places where to find free ADA compliant legal document templates? Thank you.
44 Given the upcoming 21st Century IDEA Act, what's the best authoring tool or platform should agencies use for creating accessible PDF Forms? Also, will there be a training on forms or other resources to assist agencies with complying with this initiative?
45 We are a public entity that will be launching a series of illustrative PDF bulletins online. Can you please recommend a program for narrating illustrations within the PDF. Also, any advise on how to structure the information within the drawings.
46 What are the best free resources for PDF editing for the legal field?
47 We have a lot of web admins who create and add PDFs to our website. The easier I can make the process, the more likely they will follow it. What are some readily available, easy to use tools, and the minimum standard we should expect staff to follow when creating accessible PDFs?
48 Could you provide some resources that may be used to check for color contrast? I've used various websites in the past, but at this point, I just do it by sight. I'd like to have a readily available resource. Thanks!
49 We have a lot of applications that generate reports from analytical tools as PDF outputs. In the past none of the major vendors, such as SAS, could render accessible PDF's. Are there any out there now that do?
50 Is the live webinar going to be recorded for viewing later?

Session Questions

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