(2022-04) The PDF Association wishes to draw attention to the fact that Google has REMOVED the referenced functionality from Chrome. We will update this post if and when equivalent functionality is restored.
On July 29 Google announced that starting with Chrome 85, the world's leading browser will automatically generate a tagged PDF when you choose the "Save as PDF" option.
Since web browsers took over mainstream PDF viewing several years ago, high-quality support for Tagged PDF in web browsers has always been a key objective for advocates of accessible documents.
Google's announcement is proof that not only is the web continuing to move in the direction of accessibility, but web technology companies are recognizing that support for PDF is key to modern web browsing.
“CommonLook provided technical and standards-related advice to the Google team working on the project. There are obvious challenges and still more to be done as the quality of the tagging is highly dependent on the underlying HTML. But clearly this is a major step forward and we continue to work with Google to provide guidance as they progressively improve the tagging."
I'd met with the Chrome team in August, 2018 to discuss Tagged PDF and encourage its adoption. Following the announcement I reached out to Google's Dominic Mazzoni, who led the effort. He said:
"This change will benefit end-users directly when they want to generate an accessible PDF, but also indirectly, as content creators who use an HTML-based workflow to produce PDFs now have another option to use that generates tagged PDFs."
The Chrome team has posted some quick tips on how to use Chrome from the command-line to transform a document directly into a PDF.
Invented in 1993 as a page description format, PDF's unique set of capabilities continues to deliver unmatched value to users worldwide. As browsers continue to improve their support for PDF we expect users to see the benefits of not only accessible content in PDF files, but more powerful and reusable PDF documents in general.