Screen reading software offers efficient access to many software applications and well-designed websites, but PDF files have presented special challenges for years.
For access to content, screen readers and other assistive technologies depend upon a specific feature of PDF known as “tags”. While tagging PDF files for accessibility purposes became possible in 2001, the technical specifics were ambiguous. To ensure a consistent experience software developers and service providers need a single set of technical rules for accessible PDF files. PDF/UA Committee">PDF/UA Committee in 2004 to draft these rules. PDF/UA international standard allows document creation and processing software to ensure conforming files and software are capable of delivering PDF content to assistive technology users in a consistent, high-quality fashion.
Assistive technology is the means by which many disabled users interact with computers. While specific needs of assistive technology end-users vary greatly, PDF/UA requires conforming technologies to be able to process the full set of accessibility features available in PDF. A rich, detailed reading experience is possible within any user’s preferred method of interaction.
Not only can PDF files be accessible, PDF has unique strengths when it comes to accessibility. PDF/UA reader software and PDF/UA conforming documents and forms will be assured of a high quality navigation, reading and usage experience, and equality of opportunity for users without disabilities. The PDF Association, Access for All and NV Access expect that assistive technology and document software developers, government agencies and corporations alike will get the message, and begin to demand conformance with the new International Standard for accessible PDF.
The PDF Association is not the first organisation to recognize and support NV Access’s mission to deliver a top-quality and fully capable screen reader free of charge...A member of the PDF Association Council advising NV Access in addition to providing financial support, Adobe Systems believes that the additional support for NV Access provided by the PDF Association’s initiative will accelerate the completion of PDF/UA support and further involvement of the larger community’s interest in PDF/UA.
The Swiss non-profit foundation Access for All has previously created a similar project to fund development of the free PDF Accessibility Checker (PAC)’s support for PDF/UA. PDF/UA Project.
Duff Johnson, the PDF Association’s Vice Chairman and PDF/UA US Committee Chair since 2005, said, “We at the PDF Association are extremely excited to help NV Access turn the PDF accessibility problem upside down,” he said. “Historically, typical PDF files have offered AT users a poor experience. The rules of accessible PDF were fuzzy enough to stymie development of more and better tools. PDF/UA provides clarity,” Johnson said. “The new standard simplifies the task of ensuring accessibility for consumers, product developers and policy-makers,” he said.
Markus Riesch, Director of the Access for All Foundation, said, “Access for All has recognized PDF/UA as a new paradigm in universal access to electronic content for some time...If two blind guys from Australia can do this what excuse do others have? PDF/UA is an initiative of the PDF Association. A Council of key financial and organisational supporters including Adobe Systems, callas software GmbH and NetCentric Technologies leads the project on behalf of the PDF Association and coordinates with the PDF Association’s PDF/UA Competence Center.
About the PDF Association
The PDF Association is an international non-profit industry organisation promoting awareness and adoption of open standards in digital document applications using PDF technology. The association facilitates communication, connections and the sharing of expertise and experience with interested parties worldwide...NV Access develops and supports free and open source software that facilitates access to technology for blind and vision impaired people. PDF/UA project contact:
In North America:
Vice Chair, PDF Association
+1 617 283 4226
duff.johnson (at) pdfa (dot) org
Chair, PDF Association
+49 30 4439 0310
olaf.druemmer (at) pdfa (dot) org
About the PDF Association
Formerly known as the PDF/A Competence Center, the PDF Association is an international organization promoting awareness and adoption of open standards in digital document applications using PDF technology.
The association facilitates networking and communication, and the sharing of expertise and experience with interested parties worldwide. The current membership includes over 100 enterprises and numerous individual subject-matter experts from more than 20 countries.
The management board includes industry leaders from callas software GmbH, Compart AG, Crawford Technologies Inc., intarsys consulting GmbH, LuraTech Europe GmbH and NetCentric US. The association’s chairman is Olaf Drümmer, CEO of callas software GmbH. Duff Johnson, President of NetCentric US is the deputy chairman.