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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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What is a “Competence Center”?

The PDF Association started in 2006 as the “PDF/A Competence Center”. The mission was to identify – and thereby establish – a common interpretation of the PDF/A-1 specification. With that accomplished through meetings open to all members, the secondary …

“PDF can do THAT?!”

PDF files deliver a complete package of information that defines a document; everything that’s needed to represent the text, graphics and layout that the recipient receives. To most people, PDF is “electronic paper” – the digital expression of a cellul …

The only digital document format

What is a “document”? A document is a record of some (typically written) content – a publication, a contract, a statement, a painting – at a moment in time. Until the advent of computers (and scanners), the media typically considered useable for such r …

Save the Date: PDF Days Europe 2018, May 14-16, in Berlin

PDF Days Europe is the most popular PDF event of the year. It’s where the PDF industry meets, and where institutional and corporate users come to learn what else PDF could do for them. The first two PDF Days will offer a broad range of educational sessions focussed on current and perennial topics in the world of PDF technology implementation.

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/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