You are on the right track. Provided that the Tab Order property of each page is set to "Use Document Structure", the order of the tags determines the reading order.
a 'C' student
Converting from Word sometimes gets some of the tags in the wrong order, by the way. Rearrange them in the Tags pane to ensure correct reading order.
HI...thanks for your quick reply.
My Tab order is set to 'use document structure'. You are right, tags end up in the wrong order and this is where I am finding my frustration.
I have read a kinds of document on how to fix/create tags, but none have helped me truly figure out how to fix my specific issues. I create training materials - quick reference cards - that include screen captures of our web service. I overlay many images with a callout or two pointing to specific sections of the screen. I also incude a caption. I group all elements together and add the alt text before converting to pdf. Here's an example of what a typical image looks like when converted:
I was taught to use the Touch up reading order tool to change #18, #19, #20 and #9 (a paragraph code) to "Background" and then re-order the items on the Order panel, but noticed that this did not impact the Tags. How do I fix these items so that the tags appear in the correct order (and those items I set to 'background' don't impact the tags negatively?
Yes, the Order pane can be confusing. I do not use it. Rearranging the order of the tags in the Tags pane accomplishes the same goal with a finer level of control. You might also find value in a free Acrobat plug-in that provides a handy screen-reader view for checking the reading order and tag structure (it shows the document in the way a screen-reader would read it) - Callas PDFgoHTML. You can learn about it here http://www.callassoftware.com/callas/doku.php/en:products:pdfgohtml, and download it here http://www.callassoftware.com/callas/doku.php/en:download.
Hope this helps.
a 'C' student
Tags are generated by your using the Articles panel in InDesign. These set the flow of your text.
Reading Order has to do with reflowing the document. The order depends on your Layers tab. The bottom-most element will be labelled 1. The next above, labelled 2 and so one.
While Tags and Reading Order seem to be the same thing, they actually are not.
Lynda.com added a title in March 2014 on Accessible PDF that talks about this distinction noted above.
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There really is no way I know to get the Reading Order and the Tags in proper order in the PDF right out of the box with a complex page such as the one illustrated. Maybe a Word expert could help here. I'm sure it has to do with how you build the page, the flow of text and objects within the document. You could definitely experiment with how you place the figure on the page, the text wrap, etc. Placing text boxes, etc. however is not going to help. The goals of Creating the layout you want and Creating an accessible document may conflict.
It's true that Assistive Technology such as screen readers or the Save as accessible text feature *should* read/export using the Tags Panel if Use Document Structure is set in Page properties. In my experience this is the case. I check all files with a screen reader, and have not encountered problems in how documents are read, as long as the tag order is correct. Others may have a different experience/opinion and insist that both the Reading Order and Tag Structure be correct. It certainly doesn't hurt, but it may take additional time.
To get both the Reading Order and Tags Panel correct with a layout like this I would work directly in the both the Reading Order Panel and the Tags Panel. I can't see using the Touch Up Reading Order Tool to retag the entire page, element by element. Tip: Do the Reading Order Panel first, then check the Tags Panel. Changes made in the RO Panel will upset the order of things in the Tags Panel. Sometimes the appearance of the page may be affected. If elements "float" under other elements on the page -- for example text falling behind a background shading artifact. This can be fixed in the Structure panel by identifying the shading and moving it above the text element.