To ensure end users can obtain accurate, consistent results when interacting with digital documents regardless of software or platform, the PDF/UA Processor LWG will draft a technical specification for processing PDF/UA files.
Who will benefit from a specification for processing PDF/UA files?
Since PDF 1.4 was published in 2000 the PDF format has included syntax to enable accessibility through the Tagged PDF feature (ISO 32000, 14.8).
PDF was introduced in 1993, and was designed for use with desktop application software. The first accessibility specification for PDF, PDF/UA, therefore focused on desktop applications. Today, PDF operates in a multi-platform world, but accessibility specifications have not kept up with current-generation software. It is now critical to define and achieve an equivalent experience for all end-users regardless of platform.
Meanwhile, commonly-used web technologies have also evolved, and now target delivery of consistent results across platforms and devices. This has been made possible, in part, due to the development and adoption of high-quality APIs that have allowed AT to work across platforms. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of PDF. Today, there is no common accessibility API for processing tagged PDF. Even worse, some accessibility vendors use entirely implementation-specific approaches. Consequently, end-users employing various devices typically do not receive an equivalent or consistent experience, a cornerstone of accessibility.
Past efforts in authoring processor and AT requirements have included a variety of approaches, all of which involved mapping tagged PDF to something consumable by AT.
Some possible approaches are outlined below, but others ideas are very welcome.
Other possibilities abound!
We hope to involve a diverse group of experts, including developers whose focus is on accessibility. While developing the specification, the PDF/UA Processor LWG will welcome new ideas and provide a workplace for development of other industry-agreed outcomes (e.g., test files) aligned with our mission.
The LWG’s intended participants are:
Joining the PDF/UA Processor LWG is straightforward. PDF Association members can simply join via the Member Area on pdfa.org.
Suitably qualified non-members wishing to participate may do so at no cost. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us about your interest in PDF/UA processor requirements, and to request access.
Join us for our next meeting on August 31, 2022 at 12:05pm Eastern (18:05 CET).
In addition to his expertise with the CommonLook suite of tools for testing, creating and remediating PDFs, he is also well versed in accessibility standards including Section 508 (including the recent “refresh”), Health and Human Services (HHS), WCAG 2.0, WCAG 2.1, and PDF/UA. Paul is a member of the IAAP (International Association of Accessibility Professionals) and the PDF/UA Technical Working …