PDF documents are popular to use as they preserve the visual and layout formatting of the content as intended originally by the creator and hence have become synonymous with ‘Universal Accessibility’ as PDFs support the semantics of rendering a logical structure to its content. This is central as people with disabilities and other visual impairments rely heavily on accessible documents for information and knowledge sharing.
It is the responsibility of the parent institution or organization to ensure that any information held/ shared in PDF format complies with Section 508, WCAG 2.0, PDF U/A, & ADA regulations.
Here’s where the PDF remediation process of assigning tags and creating a perceivable, operable, and accessible structure independent of the document layout comes into play.
Tags are digital labels that provide information to assistive technology about what elements the documents contain. Each PDF tag categorises the content and stores some attributes to it. They are similar to the HTML tags and their attributes including lists, tables, images, headings, paragraphs, forms, artifact and many more.
The tag structure can be viewed on the left panel of a PDF document. To an accessibility expert, this provides the information in the order by which the document will be read-out. Most PDF remediation tools allow for edits in the tag tree panel, to establish a logical reading order to the document.
In simple words, a tagged PDF is an accessible PDF version that removes any accessibility barriers and allows users to navigate the content – headers, body text, menus, lists, tables, images with alternative text, fillable form fields and artifacts, using a screen reader or any assistive technology.