Many organizations and government regulators see web content accessibility through the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) lens.
WCAG 2.0 is fairly general, and in some cases requires interpretation to determine how to apply its Success Criteria consistently. It’s a peculiarity of PDF that there are many ways to use and re-use PDF content, but only a few correct ways to structure and “read” a file from an accessibility standpoint. Those means are detailed in PDF/UA, which largely operates by adding “shall” statements to items that are merely “should” or “may” statements in the ISO 32000 context.
In any case, it is certainly possible to map the terms and concepts of PDF accessibility to the WCAG 2.0 model, and that is the purpose of the US Committee’s “Achieving WCAG 2.0 with PDF/UA” document, to be released following distribution of the FDIS to ISO 14289-1 by ISO, expected in the first half of 2012.
If you can map PDF/UA to WCAG 2.0, why do you need PDF/UA? Why aren’t the PDF Techniques for WCAG 2.0 sufficient?
The PDF/UA to WCAG 2.0 mapping table articulates the alignment between WCAG 2.0 and PDF/UA to facilitate interoperability and agreement between processing and validation models in areas that ISO 32000-1 leaves relatively unclear, or otherwise fails to specify.
While WCAG 2.0 includes content outside the scope of PDF/UA such as movies and XFA-PDF files, assuming conventional PDF document and forms, PDF software developers can achieve WCAG 2.0 conformance objectives with implementations that follow this mapping.
What is the Advantage of Using the Mapping?
Vendors who deliver PDF files in many cases are being asked to deliver PDF files that conform to WCAG 2.0. This requires PDF that goes well above and beyond mere ISO 32000-1 conformance, including an entire new structure and “tags tree”.
This mapping shows what’s necessary to create, process and validate, in PDF file-format and conforming reader terms, a PDF/UA conforming document and reader to meet all applicable WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria. It’s useful whether you are reading PDF/UA and the ISO 32000-1 from a WCAG 2.0 perspective, or the other way around.
When will the Mapping be Available?
Under final development now, we expect AIIM to publish the mapping document shortly the Final DIS of ISO 14289-1 is released.