PDF Association logo.

About the contributor
Duff Johnson

A veteran of the electronic document space, Duff Johnson is an independent consultant, Executive Director of the PDF Association and ISO Project co-Leader (and US TAG chair) for ISO 32000 and ISO 14289.
More contributions
Participating in the PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit

The PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit’s objective is to establish a broad-based understanding of how PDF files should be tagged for accessibilty. It’s an opportunity to focus on establishing a common set of examples of accessible PDF content, and identify best-practice when tagging difficult cases.

Modernizing PDF Techniques for Accessibility

The PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit will identify best-practices in tagging various cases in PDF documents. Questions to be addressed will likely include: the legal ways to tag a nested list, the correct way to caption multiple images, the appropriate way to organize content within headings.

Refried PDF

My hospital emailed me a medical records release form as a PDF. They told me to print it, fill it, sign it, scan it and return it to the medical records department, in that order. In 2018? To get the form via email (i.e., electronically), yet be asked to print it? Did the last 20 years just… not mean anything! So I thought I’d be clever. I’d fill it first, THEN print it. Or better yet, never print it, but sign it anyhow, and return it along with a note making the case for improving their workflow. The story continues…

Slides and video recordings of PDF Days Europe 2018

You missed the PDF Days Europe 2018? Never mind! Here you can find the slides and video recordings of all 32 stunning sessions!

Using PDF/UA in accessibility checklists

PDF/UA, like PDF itself, is internally complex, but used correctly, actually makes things easier.

Forms Are Made for Filling

Just as a document is made for reading, forms are made for filling. In a workplace or workflow that requires accessible documents and forms, paper forms or TIF files aren’t acceptable because they cannot be made fillable by an assistive technology (AT) user.

It’s for this reason that any document used expressly to collect information (ie, a form) must include form-fields or other means of being filled by AT users. The form must provide equal access to its content, and must be fully interactive, with correct tab order, field attributes and so on, in order to conform with the law.

Let’s take a look at the Section 508 regulations:

Subpart B – Technical Standards SubSection 1194.21
Software applications and operating systems. (l) When electronic forms are used, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues.
Source: http://www.section508.gov/

This text (while appearing – unaccountably – in the “software applications” section), clearly states that if you deliver an “electronic form” for “use” it has to be fillable in order to comply with the regulation.

There’s no provision for intent. “Fill with a quill” forms are simply not an option in Section 508 or WCAG 2.0 conforming applications, and good riddance to them.

A form is ALWAYS made for filling, ergo, all forms must be AT-usable fillable forms.

Tags: Section 508, accessibility, assistive technology, compliance, regulations
Categories: Forms, Government, PDF/UA