Before diving into PDF accessibility and Section 508 compliance, we’d like to introduce you to a few basic facts. You’ll hear these again as you learn more about what it takes to make PDFs comply with Section 508, but if you want a FAST overview to get you started, this is it.
- Almost any PDF file can be made to deliver high-quality reading and navigation results to tags-aware Assistive Technology (AT) users in full compliance with the letter and the spirit of Section 508.
- PDFs can and must comply with Section 508 every bit as much as the HTML or any other kind of pages that link to them.
- Section 508 applies to both Federal government agencies AND Federal contractors. State and local governments are also adopting similar measures.
- Section 508 compliance is most easily achieved when PDF documents are authored properly (i.e., in an accessible fashion). Correction of sub-standard or non-existent logical structures after the author is “finished” radically increases the difficulty of achieving compliance.
- Alternate text for is required for images.
- Adobe Acrobat’s “Add Tags to Document” feature cannot ensure correct reading order, add alternate text to graphics or validate table structure, among other limitations.
- Adobe Acrobat’s Accessibility Checker cannot verify compliance with Section 508, since among other limitations, it is incapable of verifying correct logical reading order.
- Adobe Acrobat’s Read Out Loud feature cannot be used to verify compliance with Section 508 since it cannot represent the document’s logical structure (tags). Read “It ‘Sounded’ Like a Good Idea at the Time” to learn more.
- Conventional PDF forms (acroforms) and some Designer/XFA forms can both comply with Section 508. However only conventional Acrobat forms can utilize existing document structures provided by external authoring applications, while XFA forms must be “static” to comply. Read “Choosing Between PDF and Designer/XFA Forms” to learn more.
Got questions about PDF and Section 508, or need some help with your own files? Contact us to learn about our Section 508 services for PDF.