How To Achieve Accessibility For High-Volume PDFs

With numerous industries, such as insurance and finance, regularly generating multiple PDF files encompassing customer statements, reports, directories, and other critical information, it is crucial to ensure digital accessibility compliance for all such documents. For organizations producing thousands, or even millions, of system-generated PDFs, achieving accessibility for each document can seem like an insurmountable task.
Many companies resort to outsourcing this process, entrusting sensitive company information to overseas providers and leaving the quality of remediation work in the hands of external entities. However, by adopting automated PDF remediation tools such as Continual Engine’s PDF accessibility tool, PREP, companies can retain control of the accessibility process in-house.
This article will explore why accessible PDFs are essential for enhancing user engagement and experience while meeting the requirements of PDF/UA standards and achieving compliance with accessibility laws such as the ADA and Section 508.

Assessing The Current State Of PDF Accessibility

PDF accessibility is critical to ensuring equal access to information for individuals with disabilities. Evaluating the current state of PDF accessibility reveals important considerations and areas for improvement.
Here are some key pointers to assess the existing landscape:
  • Compliance With Accessibility Standards

    Adhering to PDF/UA guidelines guarantees that individuals with disabilities can not only easily access and but also seamlessly interact with the content using assistive devices and software. By evaluating PDFs against this standard, organizations can ascertain the level of accessibility and make necessary adjustments to ensure inclusive access to information for all users.
  • Structural Accessibility

    Assessing the document's structure, including headings, lists, tables, and alt-text for images, enhances navigability and comprehension for users relying on screen readers. By evaluating and improving these structural components, organizations can significantly enhance the accessibility and usability of PDF documents for all users.
  • Textual Readability

    Examining PDFs' font styles, sizes, color contrast, and spacing ensures optimal legibility for individuals with visual impairments. By paying attention to these elements, organizations can ensure that individuals with visual impairments can access and comprehend the text within PDFs effectively, promoting an inclusive reading experience for all users.
  • Link And Navigation Accessibility

    Evaluating PDF accessibility is crucial to assess the inclusion of accessible hyperlinks, bookmarks, and logical reading order. By ensuring that hyperlinks are appropriately labeled, bookmarks are provided for easy access to specific sections, and a logical reading order is established, organizations can enhance the usability and accessibility of PDFs.
  • Alternative Content For Non-Text Elements

    Verifying the presence of alternative descriptions for non-text elements such as images, graphs, and charts is essential. By ensuring the inclusion of alt text, organizations can enhance the accessibility of PDFs, ensuring that all users, including those with visual impairments, are able to access and understand the content within non-text elements.
  • Forms And Interactive Elements

    Assessing the accessibility of form fields, checkboxes, radio buttons, and other interactive elements within PDFs is crucial. It ensures that individuals using assistive technologies can access and complete these elements effectively. By evaluating the accessibility of these interactive features, organizations can empower individuals with disabilities to input information, make selections, and interact with the PDF forms using assistive technologies.
    By carefully evaluating these aspects, organizations can gain insights into the current state of PDF accessibility and identify areas that require attention and improvement. Implementing necessary remediation measures will pave the way for creating inclusive PDF documents that cater to the needs of all users, regardless of their abilities.

Addressing Industry-Specific Challenges

Industries rely on large-scale document production to meet operational and regulatory requirements, highlighting the need for efficient and accessible handling of high-volume documents and PDFs. These industries rely heavily on generating high volumes of documents and PDFs for various deliverables:

Healthcare Industry

  • Guaranteeing accessibility in medical records, patient forms, and healthcare information to ensure equitable access to vital healthcare resources.
  • Addressing accessibility considerations in telehealth and digital healthcare platforms, enabling inclusive healthcare services for all individuals.

Insurance Industry

  • Facilitating accessible policy documents, claims forms, and communication materials to ensure that insurance information is easily comprehensible for all stakeholders.
  • Implementing interactive and accessible forms for online insurance processes, enhancing user experience and accessibility in the digital realm.

Government Sector

  • Meeting accessibility requirements for government publications, reports, and services to ensure equal access to vital information for all citizens.
  • Ensuring the accessibility of PDFs in government websites and digital platforms, enabling inclusive access to governmental resources and services.

Financial Institutes

  • Incorporating accessibility considerations for financial statements, reports, and disclosures, to ensure that financial information is accessible to individuals with disabilities.
  • Providing accessible online banking and financial transaction documents that allows customers to manage their finances in a digital environment effectively.

Implementing Accessibility At Scale

Ensuring accessibility in digital documents, such as PDFs, is of paramount importance for several reasons – primarily the promotion of inclusivity by providing equal access to people with disabilities. Accessible PDFs enable people with visual impairments or other disabilities to access, navigate, and comprehend the content using assistive technologies such as screen readers. By removing barriers and ensuring equal access, organizations demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity and diversity.
Beyond inclusivity, here are a few key reasons why implementing accessibility at scale is imperative for organizations:

Batch Processing and Automation

For organizations with high-volume PDF accessibility, batch processing is a valuable strategy. It involves automating the accessibility evaluation and remediation process, enabling efficient handling of large numbers of PDFs. Organizations can significantly save time and resources by automating repetitive tasks while ensuring consistent accessibility across PDF documents. Several software and tools available in the market facilitate batch processing for high-volume PDF accessibility. These tools enable organizations to streamline the evaluation, tagging, and remediation process, reducing manual efforts and improving overall efficiency. Notable tools include Adobe Acrobat Pro, CommonLook PDF, and axesPDF.

Leveraging Software and Scripting for High-Volume PDF Accessibility

One powerful solution for high-volume PDF accessibility is Continual Engine’s PDF & Document Remediation Platform (PREP). PREP is specifically designed to handle batch processing and automation, making it an ideal choice for organizations dealing with large quantities of PDFs. PREP streamlines the accessibility evaluation, tagging, and remediation process, ensuring compliance with accessibility standards.
Key features of PREP include –
  • An intuitive cloud-based collaborative tool,
  • Automated tagging,
  • Optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities,
  • A built-in PDF accessibility checker,
  • Human-centered design elements,
  • Remediation templates, and
  • Customizable scripting options.
These features allow organizations to automate the accessibility process and achieve consistent results at scale. The sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) automated tagging eliminates the need for any manual tagging of structural elements such as headings and lists, saving time and ensuring accurate accessibility. OCR capabilities enable text extraction from scanned or image-based PDFs, making them accessible to screen readers. Remediation templates provide predefined accessibility settings and configurations, ensuring consistent remediation across PDF documents. Customizable scripting options allow organizations to tailor the accessibility process to their needs and requirements.
By leveraging tools like PREP, organizations can effectively learn how to make documents accessible and manage high volumes, while maintaining control of the process in-house. This eliminates the need to outsource the remediation work and ensures the security and confidentiality of sensitive company information. Moreover, with batch processing and automation, organizations can achieve greater efficiency, reduce manual efforts, and deliver accessible PDFs in a timely manner.

Final Thoughts

Accessible PDFs enhance user engagement and comply with accessibility standards and laws. By assessing the current state of PDF accessibility, addressing industry-specific challenges, and implementing accessibility at scale through batch processing and automation, organizations can achieve inclusive access to information for all users, regardless of their abilities.
As accessibility regulations encompass PDFs, organizations must ensure that their high-volume documents comply with accessibility standards. Continual Engine offers a powerful solution that enables companies to achieve accessibility compliance while maintaining control over the process.
By leveraging PREP, organizations can enhance accessibility for all stakeholders and uphold the highest standards of compliance and inclusivity. Continual Engine’s PREP empowers organizations to take control of the accessibility process, streamline workflows, and ensure consistent accessibility across high-volume PDF documents.
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