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The PDF/UA standard defines technical requirements for universally-accessible PDF documents by identifying a set of relevant PDF functions (including text content, images, form fields, comments, bookmarks and metadata) based on ISO 32000-1 (PDF 1.7) and specifies how they should be used in PDF/UA-compliant documents. It does not address elements which have no direct impact on accessibility, such as the compression algorithms used for image data.
Successful access to content within PDFs depends not just on compliant documents, but also on compliant PDF programs and assistive technology. PDF/UA therefore also specifies requirements for these. A brief selection of the main requirements is shown below:
Adhering to these technical and semantic requirements will create a universally accessible PDF/UA document which a person with disabilities can make use of just as effectively and in just as high quality as any user without disabilities.
PDF programs are often the link for people with disabilities between the PDF document to be read and any assistive technology that may be used. In practice, this means that PDF/UA-compliant PDF programs must hand over all content and other information from the PDF document to the assistive software or device, and that the assistive technology itself must make use of all the information it receives, including for navigation, filling out form fields, or reading metadata.
The term assistive technology describes anything which helps or allows people with disabilities or other difficulties to use any kind of hardware and software. People with serious visual impairments may use screen magnifiers. People with restricted mobility can use joysticks or special keyboards for input and navigation. Highlighting the current portion of a document while also reading it aloud using a text-to-speech function can make it easier for users with dyslexia to read a document. Blind users often use a standard keyboard for input and navigation alongside a screen reader or Braille display for output. For all of these assistive technologies to work properly with PDF/UA, they must meet the following requirements: