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About the contributor
Duff Johnson

A veteran of the electronic document space, Duff Johnson is an independent consultant, Executive Director of the PDF Association and ISO Project co-Leader (and US TAG chair) for ISO 32000 and ISO 14289.
More contributions
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.

Interview with René Treuber, Product Manager of axaio software, about PDF Days Europe 2018

René Treuber, Product Manager of axaio software, will be hosting a presentation titled “Introducing ISO standards for PDF “processing steps” and “print product metadata”” at the PDF Days Europe 2018. In this Interview he gives some background information about it.

Interview with Roman Toda, CTO of Normex, about PDF Days Europe 2018

Roman Toda, CTO of Normex, will be hosting a presentation titled “Encryption with PDF 2.0” at the PDF Days Europe 2018. In this interview he gives some background information about it.

Section 508 Now 10 Years Old!


Millions of US citizens use assistive technology (AT) to read electronic content. A decade ago, the US Federal government’s Section 508 regulations, designed to ensure equal access to information, went into effect.

10 years later, it’s time to reflect, both on how far we’ve come and on some of the little surprises along the way.

Section 508 was based on WCAG 1.0, which assumed that all web-based content was HTML. Since PDF documents are generally created by users, few content managers elected to undertake responsibility for the PDFs posted on their websites.

Today, no one doubts that all documents posted on US Federal websites, whether HTML, PDF, DOC or other, must comply with Section 508.

Ten years after Section 508 went into effect there’s been substantial progress towards universal access to electronic content. It’s no longer just a Federal government objective; the Section 508 regulations spawned not only technological innovations, but a variety of similar rules in Canada, Australia and elsewhere. For users, things aren’t changing fast enough, and who can blame them for complaining? If you doubt the frustration that inaccessible PDF documents impose on blind, low vision, motor-impaired and other users, try reading a page that’s been shredded.

A key development of the last decade was the 2008 publication of WCAG 2.0. Technology-neutral, WCAG 2.0 is applicable to all technologies, including PDF, and it’s rapidly becoming “the law” for accessible electronic content. WCAG 2.0 will be integrated into the forthcoming “refresh” of the original Section 508 regulations.

Written primarily to define PDF accessibility in software development terms, the forthcoming ISO 14289, better known as PDF/UA (Universal Accessibility) provides technical answers to the question “how does WCAG 2.0 apply to PDF”.

Now at the “Draft International Standard” stage, PDF/UA heralds a new generation of software for creating accessible PDF documents and forms. The committees responsible for ISO 14289 are now hard at work finishing the text of the Standard. They are also developing implementation and best-practice guides to help developers, policy-makers and end-users ensure that PDF documents conform.


Tags: Section 508, WCAG 2.0, accessibility, regulations
Categories: Government, PDF/UA