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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.
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The Power of the Page

It’s a question that vexes vendors of web-based solutions everywhere: why do people still insist on PDF files? And why does PDF’s mindshare keep going up? “PDF is such antediluvian technology!” they say. “It’s pre-web, are you kidding me? It’s so old-f …

PDF Association technical resources: an overview

PDF is PDF because files produced with one vendor’s software can be read using a different vendor’s software with no loss of fidelity. Interoperability is key to our industry. The PDF Association is a international membership organization dedicated to …

2022: The last year of paper for records-keeping

NARA (The National Archives and Records Administration) is the final depository for the long-term records generated by all other agencies of the U.S. Federal Government. The agency has a key role in preserving the cultural history of the republic as we …

PDF 2.0 examples now available

The PDF Association is proud to present the first PDF 2.0 example files made available to the public. Created and donated to the PDF Association by Datalogics, this initial set of PDF 2.0 examples were crafted by hand and intentionally made simple in construction to serve as teaching tools for learning PDF file structure and syntax.

PDF 2.0 interops help vendors

The PDF 2.0 interop workshops included many vendors with products for creating, editing and processing PDF files. They came together in Boston, Massachusetts for a couple of days to test their own software against 3rd party files.

PDF/UA: The key facts


What does “universal accessibility” actually mean when it comes to PDFs? It is the idea that everyone should be equally able to independently access and use the information contained within a PDF document. This applies in particular to people with disabilities and those with other difficulties; in other words, those who particularly depend on universally accessible information and documents. The PDF/UA standard allows these people the following key options:

  • Making use of PDF documents without assistance from others
  • Reaching a specific goal easily, directly, and within a reasonable time frame
  • Making the same-quality use of PDF documents as people without disabilities.

The technical requirements for universally accessible PDF documents are described clearly and in full in the new PDF/UA standard. They define, for example, how to create text, images, form fields, lists and tables that can be used by people with disabilities.

Laws requiring accessible IT services

These requirements are increasingly important for businesses and public institutions, as current legislation requires (and in some cases has regulated for many years) universal accessibility in information technology. Laws in the USA, Canada, Australia and the European Union, for example, require state and federal authorities to allow the public universal access to the digital information they provide. Aside from websites, this applies in particular to PDF documents. Although such laws do not always apply to the private sector (or apply only in limited cases), more and more modern businesses are accepting their responsibility to provide accessible versions of both their websites and the PDF documents they provide.

Introduction to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0

The requirements for PDF/UA are based on the principles of Version 2.0 of the W3C consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), also published in identical form as an ISO standard in October 2012 (ISO/IEC 40500). WCAG 2.0 guides the creation of accessible web content, focusing on the kinds of content and applications usually provided on websites.

Some WCAG 2.0 tips of a purely informative nature suggest how barriers to access can also be avoided in PDF documents, but a systematic explanation or guide is not provided. PDF/UA, on the other hand, exclusively and fully addresses the PDF format, bringing the ideas behind WCAG 2.0 into the world of PDF and setting PDF-specific rules.

As an ISO standard, PDF/UA does not offer concrete help with implementation, either for specific programs or areas of application. This, however, is covered by the PDF/UA Competence Center founded by the PDF Association. The PDF/UA Competence Center is made up of leading international businesses and individual experts who use the website www.pdfa.org, as well as publications, seminars and conferences, to provide information about implementing PDF/UA in practice.

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Tags: ISO Standard, WCAG 2.0
Categories: PDF/UA