Accessible PDF: Users and usage

PDF/UA in a Nutshell

As a quality standard for universally accessible PDF documents aimed at both software developers and document creators, PDF/UA serves as a clear basic requirement for everyone involved in PDF creation. It gives software developers a clear set of goals to work towards implementing which users can then take into account when creating PDFs.

This benefits all PDF creators. Some of them will find PDF/UA compliance brings significant advantages. This includes people who work with office documents, who often distribute their finished presentations, spreadsheets and text documents to others or store them in a central location for others to retrieve. As the office program each person uses can vary dramatically in terms of functionality, compatibility and accessibility, it is often easier for everyone involved to export these documents to PDF format before passing them along to others. PDF documents created in this way are not automatically PDF/UA-compliant, but it is now becoming much easier to make these documents universally accessible and ultimately, for them to meet the standard.

A further area of application for PDF/UA is in digital distribution of printed publications in PDF format. The print data is usually prepared in digital format using layout and editing programs, then exported in PDF format for printing. These programs are also often used to generate a PDF for on-screen reading which is then distributed over the web or by email. The most extensive support for universally accessible PDF documents can be found in the layout program Adobe InDesign, from version CS 5.5 onwards. InDesign provides a particularly high level of support for the technical requirements behind the PDF/UA standard , which means it requires little extra work to create universally accessible PDF/UA-compliant documents. Certain aspects may need occasional adjustment, either manually or with the use of specialist software extensions.

If a PDF document is created from a database, XML, or some other structured data set, the solutions used can also take advantage of updated PDF programming libraries which encode the content in accordance with PDF/UA specifications. It is also equally possible to adapt solutions which already allow the creation of tagged PDFs, in order to produce PDF/UA-compliant PDF documents.

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About PDF Association

Founded in 2006 as the PDF/A Competence Center, the PDF Association exists to promote the adoption and implementation of International Standards for PDF technology.

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