1 Reply Latest reply on Nov 6, 2012 6:57 AM by raeben3

    Accessibility improvements


      Where I work we use Acrobat all the time, for PDFs which are scores or hundreds of pages long.  The single biggest drain on our time is doing accessibility work on PDFs.  The single biggest cause of that drain is the way Acrobat does what it wants rather than doing what we tell it to do.  Examples:


      • I select an element of the page, mark it as text or table or whatever, and it makes another element disappear completely.
      • I work through a document, page by page, finally get to the end and save it, then find that it has vanished an element in some earlier page, so now the  entire document must be done all over again.
      • I select one element, mark it as text or H2 or whatever, and for some reason Acrobat decides to group that element with some other elements and mark them  all as the same type of thing, when they are supposed to be different.
      • I adjust the reading order, and elements vanish.
      • I tag up an image composed of EPS and it just destroys the page, with pieces going everywhere.


      The single most important piece of information you need to take from this post is: A selected action should apply ONLY to the piece of the document which the user has specified.  Nothing else.  There should be no attempt at smart software that tries to guess what should be, because it doesn't work.  It makes things more difficult for everyone.


      My suggestion is layers.  Have the content in its own layer which is not in any way adjusted by the accessibility/tagging work.  Do not let that work in any way affect the content.  Now you have another layer over the top of that for accessibility.  This accessibility layer can then be chopped and changed and partitioned in whatever way is required, including selecting sections and setting tags and reading order and such.  Apply alt text and such only to this accessibility layer.  Allow this accessibility layer to read from the content, so that content is presented through the accessibility layer as heading, text, et cetera, but make sure this is a one way street and the accesssibility work NEVER affects the content.  This way you won't have content disppearing due to the eccentricities of Acrobat's accessibility tools.

        • 1. Re: Accessibility improvements
          raeben3 Level 3

          What document editor, word processor or layout software are you using to create your PDFs?  Tagging Acrobat PDF works best with an integrated workflow utilizing MS Office, Adobe Indesign or Framemaker. Tags can be added at the time of document creation using these packages. 


          Some documents -- legacy, scanned or problem files will require manual tagging.  I have seen many problems. But there  are solutions and workarounds for most problems and they may not take long to do once you know how. Still tagging PDFs can be VERY frustrating at times.


          Use the tagging panel in order to correct and define structure and reading order. When you use the reading order panel you may not be able to move one content item or element. You often need to move others as well in order to keep all content visible on the page.  If something disappears, try moving other items in the content panel. Often the problem can be corrected by reordering other  items on the page. If you are having problems with headers and other elements disappearing under background images you can delete background or banner images from the PDF and reinsert as backgrounds at the end, after everything else is tagged.


          If you are selecting one element, and tagging it properly other items should not be grouped and tagged with it.  I have never seen this happen.  How are you selecting the item?


          When you have a complex image that is causing problems (i.e., parts of it dropping out), create a simple image.  One method: using the snapshot tool, select the image which copies it to the clipboard; create a PDF from clipboard; save the resulting PDF as an image (e.g., PNG). Use the edit  tool to select and delete the original complex image from the PDF and import the simple PNG or JPG you created.  Then retag the image.  Alternately, you could create a version of the document with JPG or PNG and make your PDF from that.  This will make your PDF more stable in general.


          If your documents are huge and one page "goes bad" you can often make a tagged PDF of that page and insert in into your document, reorder/adjust the tags for that page in the tags panel and you will not have to start over. Do incremental saves as you work (e.g., XYZ01.pdf, XYZ.02.pdf, XYZ.03.pdf) so that if you have a problem you can rollback to the version just before the probem, or extract single pages.


          Good luck!