About the contributor
PDF Association

Mission Statement: To promote Open Standards-based electronic document implementations using PDF technology through education, expertise and shared experience for stakeholders worldwide.
More contributions
Interview with Dr. Bernd Wild about PDF Days Europe 2017

Who: Dr. Bernd Wild Company: intarsys AG Position: CTO PDF Association: The PDF Days Europe will be held in Berlin again. Do you have any personal relationship with Berlin? Dr. Bernd Wild: Not directly. But I appreciate Berlin for its locations and eve …

Interview with Dietrich von Seggern for PDF Days Europe 2017

Who: Dietrich von Seggern Company: callas software GmbH Position: Managing Director PDF Association: The PDF Days Europe will be held in Berlin again. Do you have any personal relationship with Berlin? Dietrich von Seggern: Yes, definitely. I first cam …

Interop workshops: building a test matrix

How will the PDF 2.0 interop workshops work? This article explains the process of building the test-matrix to establish possibilities for pair-wise testing.

PDF Days Europe agenda looks to the future

With over 35 informative sessions across a wide range of topics spanning the future of PDF technology, this year’s PDF Days is more relevant than ever.

SHA-1 is gone… and it’s deprecated in PDF 2.0 as well

As we reported yesterday, those in the crypto world are well-aware that Google and others have proven that SHA-1, the venerable cryptographic hash function standard, is dead. The consequences, however, are yet to be determined. Somewhere, it is safe to …

PDF/UA: The ISO standard for universal accessibility


Information plays a central role in society today, and it is becoming more and more common for that information to be offered in digital form alone. The reliable, user-friendly Portable Document Format (PDF) has become the world’s file type of choice for providing information as a digital document.

Tags can be added to a PDF in order to structure the content of a document. These tags are a critical requirement if any form of assistive technology (such as screen readers, specialist mice, and speech recognition and text-to-speech software) is to gain access to this content. To date, PDF documents have rarely been tagged, and not all software can make use of PDF tags. In practical terms, this particularly reduces information‘s accessibility for people with disabilities who rely on assistive technology.

Tagged PDF: Tags are standardised content markers in a digital document. First available in Adobe Acrobat 5, tags can be used to create a PDF file with a logical document structure . Tags are a critical requirement for accessing the content in PDFs with assistive technology.

In order to ensure future access to PDF documents for as many people as possible, the ISO 14289-1 standard (known as PDF/UA) was developed by specialists from around the world. It was published by the ISO in July 2012 with the official title “ISO 14289-1. Document management applications – Electronic document file format enhancement for accessibility – Part 1: Use of ISO 32000-1 (PDF/UA-1)”.

PDF/UA-1 is the first part of the PDF/UA standards family; the “UA” suffix stands for “Universal Accessibility” and refers to the standard’s central requirement. It is the first complete definition of a set of requirements for universally-accessible PDF documents.

PDF/UA is aimed primarily at developers of software for creating, reading, editing and validating PDF, and at suppliers of assistive technology. The standard itself is not intended as a field manual for day-to-day use, but for PDF creators looking to learn more. The PDF Association and its members offer specialist articles, webinars and training, providing detailed information about PDF/UA and explaining how to create accessible PDF content. Implementing the clearly-defined requirements of the PDF/UA standard in software products will allow users to easily create accessible PDF documents without any special training, opening up effortless access to high quality content to as many people as possible.

At the time of PDF/UA’s publication, of course, there were no programs available which were fully compliant with the standard. Since then, however, a number of software developers including Adobe Systems, axaio software, callas software, NetCentric Technologies, NV Access, PDFlib, xyMedia, the Swiss National Association of and for the Blind (SNAB), and the Swiss foundation “Zugang für alle” (Access For All) have already announced or even released products supporting the PDF/UA format.

More and more developers, government authorities and other organisations are expected to accept PDF/UA as an absolute requirement for universally accessible PDF documents from this point on.

overview – next >


Tags: ISO, Universal Accessibility, tags
Categories: PDF/UA