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PDF Association

Mission Statement: To promote Open Standards-based electronic document implementations using PDF technology through education, expertise and shared experience for stakeholders worldwide.
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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.

PDF Association expands its board of directors

Catherine Andersz of PDFTron Systems, Alaine Behler of iText Software and Peter Wyatt, ISO Project Leader for ISO 32000 enrich the newly elected board of the PDF Association.

PDF Days Europe 2018 concludes with record number of attendees

Richard Cohn, Principal Scientist at Adobe and the co-author of PDF 1.0, gave the opening keynote at the PDF Days Europe 2018.

Infographics: PDF/UA and WCAG 2.0

Following publication of PDF/UA in the summer of 2012, AIIM’s US Committee for PDF/UA published a mapping between WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria and PDF/UA to help guide policy makers, software developers and authors consider their responsibility for various parameters of WCAG 2.0 conformance in a PDF/UA context.

As the first in a series of articles comparing WCAG 2.0 and PDF/UA we start with a graphical explanation of coverage from the WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria point of view. In a later piece we’ll examine WCAG 2.0’s coverage of PDF/UA’s clauses.

The following Venn diagrams were developed with the approval of the PDF Association’s PDF/UA Competence Center and AIIM’s US Committee for PDF/UA to provide a graphical explanation for the relationship between PDF/UA and WCAG 2.0’s Guidelines.

WCAG 2.0’s Success Criteria are organized into twelve Guidelines derived from four Principles. Since WCAG 2.0 is technology-neutral it is also necessarily very general, and requires mapping, interpretation and application, especially to non-Web technologies.

The relationship between WCAG 2.0’s twelve Guidelines and PDF/UA is expressed in this diagram:

Description follows the diagram.

The diagram shows that although WCAG 2.0 and PDF/UA address substantially different domains there is substantial overlap in terms of WCAG 2.0 Guidelines.

What’s different about WCAG 2.0 and PDF/UA? The former is very high-level and general in the Principles and (to a lesses extent) in the Guidelines, with the most specifics in the Success Criteria.

Most WCAG 2.0 Guidelines are addressed – in PDF terms – within PDF/UA. Four Guidelines are partially addressed – the so-called “delta” between the two standards.

The four partially-addressed Guidelines are:

  • 1.2 Time-based media
  • 1.4 Distinguishable
  • 3.2 Predictable
  • 3.3 Input assistance

Most of the divergence is limited to a very specific set of content types.

PDF/UA and Time-based media

The “WCAG 2.0 coverage with PDF/UA for Guideline 1.2 Success Criteria” diagram shows that of the Success Criteria in Guideline 1.2 only 1.2.3 is partially addressed in PDF/UA.PDF/UA is focussed on the PDF document format, and addresses only in a peripheral way the many varieties of 3rd party content that users can (but rarely do) embed into PDF documents.

Accordingly, PDF/UA includes only the most minimal of normative requirements for time-based media. Essentially, PDF/UA’s requirements are limited to requiring that multimedia files include a text description.

For software, PDF/UA requires conforming readers provide accessible controls (if controls are provided at all), and disallows automatic playback.

The “WCAG 2.0 coverage with PDF/UA for Guideline 1.2 Success Criteria” diagram shows that of the Success Criteria in Guideline 1.2 only 1.2.3 is partially addressed in PDF/UA.

PDF/UA and Distinguishable content

The “WCAG 2.0 coverage with PDF/UA for Guideline 1.4 Success Criteria” diagram shows that Success Criteria 1.4.1, 1.4.2 and 1.4.4 are fully addressed in PDF/UA. Success Criteria 1.4.3 and 1.4.5 through 1.4.9 are not addressed in PDF/UA at all.WCAG 2.0 establishes success criteria for assessing accessibility in web content whereas PDF/UA establishes requirements for assessing accessible use of the PDF format.

This distinction is fundamental to understanding the different ways in which the two standards approach the question of distinguishable content. PDF/UA’s focus is to ensure that information can be made accessible by way of the Tagged PDF feature, whereas WCAG 2.0 assumes far more control over the appearance of any given element of content.

The “WCAG 2.0 coverage with PDF/UA for Guideline 1.4 Success Criteria” diagram shows that Success Criteria 1.4.1, 1.4.2 and 1.4.4 are fully addressed in PDF/UA. Success Criteria 1.4.3 and 1.4.5 through 1.4.9 are not addressed in PDF/UA at all.

PDF/UA and Predictable content

The “WCAG 2.0 coverage with PDF/UA for Guideline 3.2 Success Criteria” diagram shows the Success Criteria in Guideline 3.2. 3.2.2 and 3.2.2 are partially addressed in PDF/UA. Success Criteria 3.2.3 through 3.2.5 are not addressed in PDF/UA at all.Most provisions in 3.2 and 3.2 pertain to the operation of scripts.

JavaScript is used in many PDF documents, especially forms, to provide various logical, navigational and other functionality, including accessibility enhancements.

Nonetheless, PDF/UA is, as noted above, a PDF-specific standard, and requirements for JavaScript within PDF/UA are narrowly focussed, especially as compared to WCAG 2.0 Guideline 3.2 and 3.3.

The “WCAG 2.0 coverage with PDF/UA for Guideline 3.2 Success Criteria” diagram shows that Success Criteria 3.2.2 and 3.2.2 are partially addressed in PDF/UA. Success Criteria 3.2.3 through 3.2.5 are not addressed in PDF/UA at all.

PDF/UA and Input assistance

The “WCAG 2.0 coverage with PDF/UA for Guideline 3.3 Success Criteria” diagram shows the Success Criteria in Guideline 3.3. Of these, 3.3.2 is fully addressed in PDF/UA, but 3.3.1 and 3.3.3 through 3.3.6 are not addressed in PDF/UA at all.Most of Guideline 3.3 is, from the PDF perspective, a matter for the author to consider when designing their document, and therefore isn’t PDF-specific.

As stated in Achieving 2.0 with PDF/UA, in general, PDF/UA does not address visual appearance, content or design choices and relies on semantic equivalents. In these cases, PDF/UA generally refers implementers, normatively and informatively, to WCAG 2.0.

The “WCAG 2.0 coverage with PDF/UA for Guideline 3.3 Success Criteria” diagram shows that Success Criteria 3.3.2 is fully addressed in PDF/UA, but 3.3.1 and 3.3.3 through 3.3.6 are not addressed in PDF/UA at all.

PDF/UA, WCAG 2.0 and the 2015-02-18 Section 508 NPRM

The relationship between the standards at the level of WCAG 2.0 Guidelines is more complex if one overlays the US Access Board’s new NPRM, which addresses not only content but the systems used to read it.

The NPRM text is WCAG 2.0-centric, and excludes level AAA’s success criteria Success Criteria. Beyond WCAG 2.0 the NPRM includes requirements in §502 for “Interoperability with Assistive Technology) that PDF/UA shares (in its clause 8) but that WCAG 2.0 only informs. The NPRM specifically excludes requirements for assistive technology, which is the purpose of PDF/UA’s clause 9.In “Section 508 2015-02-18 Proposed Rule (content & interoperability)” the diagram shows that although WCAG 2.0 and PDF/UA address different domains there is substantial overlap in terms of WCAG 2.0 Guidelines. Five of Guidelines are fully addressed within PDF/UA; four are partially addressed, include normative references to WCAG 2.0, or do not address the subject in the same way. These are 1.2, 1.4, 3.2 and 3.3. In addition, Section 508 excludes WCAG 2.0 Level AAA Success Criteria and PDF/UA’s clause 9.x, but includes PDF/UA’s clause 8.x.


Tags: Guideline 1.2, Guideline 1.4, Guideline 3.2, Guideline 3.3, Guidelines, Success Criteria, WCAG 2.0, accessibility
Categories: PDF/UA