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ISO 14289-2

PDF for Universal Accessibility (PDF/UA-2)

PDF files may be created natively, converted from other electronic formats, or digitized from paper. Businesses, governments, libraries, archives, and other institutions and individuals around the world use PDF to represent considerable bodies of important information. These PDF files should be made accessible to users with disabilities.

Beyond alternative descriptions for images the accessibility of an electronic document depends on a variety of semantic information describing the logical structure and organization of the page content into sections, paragraphs, lists, tables and so on.

The PDF feature that represents the semantic information necessary for accessibility is known as “Tagged PDF”.

Major improvements over PDF/UA-1

  • Comprehensive requirements for structure element attributes and examples of semantically-significant attribute usage
  • Comprehensive requirements for annotations
  • Rules governing the relationship between structure elements defined in PDF 1.7 and those defined in PDF 2.0
  • Support for structure elements defined in PDF 2.0, including Title, DocumentFragment, Aside, FENote, Artifact and more*
  • Support for MathML*
  • Requirements regarding the use of structure destinations with intra-document links*
  • The use of PDF 2.0’s Associated Files feature to facilitate the integration of non-PDF content*
  • Support for modern Unicode*

* – New feature introduced in PDF 2.0.

Context and limitations

With provisions that are identical to the WTPDF specification’s conformance level for accessibility, PDF/UA-2 operates as a companion standard to be used in conjunction with ISO 32000-2 (PDF 2.0). PDF/UA-2 provides a means of making PDF 2.0 files that conform to W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and may be used in conjunction with WCAG 2.x.

By itself, conformity to PDF/UA-2 does not necessarily ensure the accessibility of a document’s content.  Cases not covered by PDF/UA-2 include, and are not limited to:

  • Use of colour or contrast;
  • ECMAScript present in the file that can generate inaccessible results;
  • Content that’s inaccessible to those with certain cognitive impairments.

PDF/UA does not address conversion of non-conforming files, or describe how to achieve conformance. The standard simply states the necessary technical features of accessible PDF documents.

ISO 14289-2 (PDF/UA-2) was preceded by:

  • ISO 14289-1:2014, the “dated revision” includes a variety of corrections.
  • ISO 14289-1:2012, This document is no longer available.


Technical questions about ISO 14289-2 are most effectively addressed in the PDF Association’s official pdf-issues GitHub repo. For other questions, please email info@pdfa.org.


Buy ISO 14289-2

ISO 14289-2:2024 (PDF/UA-2) defines the use of tagged PDF in files conforming to ISO 32000-2:2020 (PDF 2.0) to ensure accessible content.

PDF/UA icon

PDF Association author(s): PDF/UA TWG & PDF Reuse TWG

ISO Working Group: ISO TC171 SC2 WG9

ISO Status: status of all PDF-related ISO work

Related PDF Association publications:

Published: March 15, 2024


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