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NewFormat AB

NewFormat make PDF information permanently
accessible, searchable, readable and reusable
for the future and for as many people as possible.

We create accessible PDF in compliance with the ISO Standard PDF/UA.


Our solutions are based on
recognized ISO Standards based on PDF technology
and tested, reliable, and highly accessible software solutions from
the PDF Association vendor community.





Accessibility - Icon

Accessible PDF




On this website we share everything
that you need to know to successfully create
Accessible PDF according to the ISO Standard PDF/UA!

Take your time and read everything below in peace and quiet at your own pace
and then contact NewFormat for advice on the best way forward for
your particular business to create accessible PDF documents.




Portable Document Format - PDF

PDF - Icon

    Digital information that is worth saving and shared with others is often saved as
    a digital document in the form of Portable Document Format, better known as PDF.

    PDF is the format of choice for every kind of document used in all
    industries, government and by all citizens.
    PDF is trusted by everyone to reliably communicate accurate information.

    Every year billions of PDF documents are created around the world.
    In the Swedish public sector alone, many millions of PDF documents
    are created every year; whereof a large part of these documents are
    published on government websites for access by the general public.

    To most end users, PDF is simply a reliable, printable page.
    Informed users know that PDF performs as a critical workflow enabler,
    a multipurpose content vehicle and a powerful and globally supported
    format for long-term archiving.

    PDF technology goes far beyond the format:
    PDF enables digital document solutions on every continent,
    in every language, in every business and public sectors worldwide.
    From scanned pages to input for print and publishing processes,
    ISO-standardized PDF technology is indispensable across a
    vast range of document applications.


    Can a PDF be Accessible for Everyone?

    Can PDF be accessible? Yes, of course!

    File type techniques like PDF and HTML are not by default accessible.

    A PDF can be made an Accessible PDF,
    just like an HTML-based web page can be made accessible.

    The reality is that accessibility is not dependent on the file type,
    but the work done to make it accessible.

    Neither PDF documents nor HTML pages become accessible
    because of their ability to become accessible.
    They become accessible because of the trained work put into it.

    An HTML page without that work is inaccessible regardless of its capability.
    Of course so is PDF.

    Achieving accessible PDF or accessible HTML
    typically requires special tools and skills;
    see more about it below.




Accessible PDF

PDF/UA - Icon

    All individual citizens have the right to access all types of government information.

    Barriers that prevent interaction with or access to
    documents or websites can be considered as discrimination.


    Sweden as a nation is bound by international and Swedish
    regulations to ensure accessibility for everyone:

    • the UN Declaration on Human Rights,

    • the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,

    • the Swedish Anti-Discrimination Act,

    • the Swedish Public Procurement Act,

    • the Work Environment Act,

    • the Swedish Language Act,

    • the EU Web Accessibility Directive implemented as
      the Swedish Act on Access to Digital Public Services
      (SFS 2018:1937 & SFS 2018:1938), and

    • Upcoming: The European Accessibility Act

    Declarations, conventions, directives and acts that are technology-neutral.

    Swedish authorities are thus since long bound to comply with
    and apply these regulations in their daily operations.

    Authorities are also in the role of employer responsible for that
    employee work material is accessible and well functioning.


    What is Accessible PDF?

    A digital or electronic media is accessible when it is
    easily opened, read, understood and can be navigated by everyone,
    with or without disabilities.

    The aim of a barrier-free PDF document is to ensure that all users,
    regardless of their personal restrictions, have equal access to
    the content in the PDF-document without the help of others.

    Barrier-free access and accessible PDF content is all about universal design;
    i.e. accessibility through design.
    Good design for digital accessibility for everyone ensures no subsequent
    adjustment is required for the needs of a specific target group of individuals.

    Note! Accessible PDF (PDF/UA) is not about visual appearance or editorial design,
    but about applying digital accessibility standards to define an
    internal technical description of the contents of the PDF document
    so that accessibility devices can accurately reproduce the content.


    Digital Accessibility Standards.
    Compliance with WCAG is required for all content on accessible websites.
    For PDF documents, compliance with the ISO Standard PDF/UA is also required.

    Websites are technically built with HTML and CSS code supplemented
    with digital information content of mainly these media components:

    • text

    • pictures

    • sound

    • video

    • documents and presentation slides, and

    • graphic illustrations

    Regardless of the technology (web/HTML, text, .png, .jpeg, mp4, PDF, .docx, .key,...)
    used for a digital web-based service all its media types must be published
    in a form so that they are accessible for everyone in the community.


    Website owners often refer to:
    "We focus on making the HTML-based content accessible".

    But according to the EU Web Accessibility Directive,
    that is no longer a valid excuse.

    The EU directive, which is technology-neutral, means that all types of
    digitally published information (ie all media types) must be published
    in a form that makes it accessible for everyone.


    To ensure unrestricted access to PDF-based information in every respect,
    PDF files must meet certain requirements.

    Accessibility standards ensure that even PDF documents
    work well with screen readers and other assistive technology.

    For a PDF to be considered accessible,
    it should be compliant to accessibility standards,
    including WCAG, PDF/UA, and Section 508 (in the USA).


    For files based on PDF-technology,
    universal accessibility requirements are since 2012 defined by:


    Successful e-government presupposes that all digital government information
    is accessible for all citizens - the success is dependent on "Accessible PDF":


    WCAG and PDF/UA complement each other.

    The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
    are the internationally recognized guidelines for accessible web.
    Many national or supranational regulations (eg at EU level)
    on the accessibility of web sites refer to WCAG.

    The WCAG recommendations emphesize good visual and editorial web design.
    All information on a website must be accessible for everyone based on
    four main principles which state that content must be "POUR":

    • Perceivable,

    • Operable,

    • Understandable, and

    • Robust

    PDF/UA is a required complement, not an alternative, to WCAG.

    PDF/UA is consistent with WCAG, but far more technically specific,
    and provides a clear-cut means of affirming that a given PDF document
    meets high standards for accessibility.

    Compliance with PDF/UA is important for digital accessibility for everyone.
    PDF/UA defines the technical requirements that must be considered
    when a PDF document must be universally accessible for everyone;
    with or without disabilities.

    The standard specifies HOW relevant PDF content
    (such as semantic content, text content, images,
    form fields, comments, bookmarks, and metadata)
    may be used in PDF/UA-compliant documents.

    Properly tagged PDFs are essential and a prerequisite
    for accessibility so that screen reader devices for
    visually impaired people or reading software for
    users with learning disabilities can provide
    rich access to a PDF’s content.

    PDF tags are also an effective method to improve
    Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

    Even automated text extraction from PDF documents
    is easier with well-tagged documents.


    PDF documents complying with PDF/UA
    are universally accessible for everyone.

    In order to create a document that is as accessible as possible to everyone,
    one needs to focus on all potential user groups and their needs.

    One should never succumb to the temptation to optimize a
    PDF document for a specific user group.
    The consequence of this could be that such a document is then
    very readily consumable for this one group of users,
    but may be more disadvantageous than beneficial for others.


    Important!

    How well a PDF document is "accessible for everyone"
    depends on how the document is created.

    The level of accessibility according to current accessibility standards
    is determined by both the execution of the editorial content of
    the document AND of its internal technical structure.
    Often, this insight is neglected by many, which can lead to significant
    problems when it comes to fixing inaccessible documents.

    Electronic documents provided for download on a web site are also covered
    by WCAG per se and must meet the applicable success criteria to comply
    with WCAG (Level A, AA or AAA).

    It is definitely best to first conduct an editorial accessibility check of
    the content according to the WCAG recommendations.
    The editorial content of the PDF document must be WCAG compliant before it
    is tested with respect to PDF/UA, the technical requirements for "accessible PDF".


    But, WCAG's recommendations alone are not enough
    to make a universally accessible PDF.

    Note! For the technical implementation of accessible PDF,
    compliance with the ISO Standard PDF/UA is a requirement;
    a PDF file can be compliant both with WCAG and PDF/UA.


    Successful barrier-free access to content within PDF documents
    depends not just on PDF/UA compliant documents, but also on
    requirements for PDF/UA compliant programs and assistive technology:

    • a PDF/UA compliant document (according to standards and guidelines),

    • a PDF/UA compliant display or processing program,

    • a PDF/UA compliant assistive technology.


    Please be aware,

    never adapt documents to a specific assistive technology or software.

    It is not the assistive technologies, nor popular software tools such as
    MS Office, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Acrobat, Apple Keynote,..., etc,
    that define what is an accessible PDF.

    A PDF document is defined as "accessible PDF" only when it
    meets the ISO Standard PDF/UA with guidelines!


    All you have to do is to create ONE version of a PDF/UA compliant document,
    and the manufacturers of the relevant programs and assistive technologies
    are responsible for complying with the regulations.
    It is also not necessary to check the end result for correctness
    using such technologies or techniques.


    (See also our solutions and services for Accessible Web - W3C/WCAG)




Who should use PDF/UA for Accessible PDF, and when?

PDF/UA - Icon

    PDF/UA is relevant and directly applicable for all entities,
    in public sector and elsewhere, concerned with conformance
    to regulations requiring access for everyone to
    documents based on PDF technology


    Since 2009 it is mandatory (according to the National Archives' regulations)
    for Swedish authorities to use the standard PDF/A-1 for electronic archiving
    of office documents and other digital documents.

    PDF/UA is a complementary, process-based standard
    which is applicable to Swedish authorities and entities,
    to make public documents universally accessible for everyone.

    A PDF document can simultaneously meet several standards,
    for example, both PDF/A-2a and PDF/UA for long-term archiving of
    an accessible PDF document.


    Legal requirements for accessibility to digital information for everyone in the society
    (e.g. the EU Web Accessibility Directive, the Swedish Act on Access to
    Digital Public Services, the Swedish Discrimination Act, the German BGG, BITV and
    EU mandate 376) ensures that all users, regardless of functional ability, have equal
    access to information and functionality on the web and in PDF documents.

    Accessible PDF files are fundamental for barrier-free access to digital information from
    eGovernments/public administrations and enterprises serving the public sector.

    Also entities serving the public sector, like media service providers,
    advertising/communication agencies, banks, insurances agencies,
    and representatives of associations and institutions as well as students and
    lecturers at colleges and universities increasingly consider it their duty to
    have their written materials available as accessible documents.


    Documents on websites, especially PDF files, can be a significant
    risk of liability even if the site's HTML content itself is fixed.
    Avoid litigation risks by ensuring that all PDF documents on the
    web are accessible for everyone; with or without disabilities.


    Recommendation:

    For all forms of internal/external ordering of PDF-based documents
    the following shall be included as firm requirement:

"The PDF documents SHALL be delivered as accessible PDF
according to the ISO Standard 14289 (PDF/UA)"



    Please be aware,

    to quickly make accessible PDF by pressing a few buttons
    in a program does not usually lead to a successful final result.
    You need a certain amount of basic knowledge in accessibility standards.
    The extent of this knowledge depends largely on the nature of
    your documents and content.

    Are you confident that your business internally has the skills and the right tools
    to create PDF documents that are guaranteed to meet the PDF/UA Standard?

    If not,
    hire NewFormat to provide Accessible PDF as a Service.
    Accessible PDF as a Service is for anyone who does not have the
    opportunity to create accessible PDF files on their own,
    but who nevertheless want PDF documents to comply with
    accessibility regulations and standards.


    Interesting?




Common ways to create of accessible PDF documents


PDF/UA - Icon

    There are two common methods for the creation of accessible PDF documents:

    • The direct method based on source format:
      If you want to create accessible PDF documents with authoring software
      like Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Acrobat,
      or if you want to convert a structured format like HTML or XML into PDF,
      you usually click the magic “Create PDF” button.

      If the conversion software does a good job, the necessary internal tag tree
      is created automatically in a high quality.


    • The indirect method based on an existing PDF file:
      If the source file is not available or if the authoring software doesn’t do
      a good conversion job, you can take the PDF without tags,
      generally a web-PDF, and rework it.

      During this process you tag every relevant content element and
      add some additional accessibility features like alt text to figures.
      For doing this you need a software tool, a PDF editor,
      that is capable to create and edit PDF tags.


    But do not expect too much.
    Only very few software programs offer inbuilt support to create high-quality
    PDF/UA compliant documents out of the box or at least with less effort.




PDF/UA - Icon

Recommended Reading on PDF/UA
The ISO Standard for Accessible PDF Documents and Forms

PDF/UA in a Nutshell - Front Cover - Picture     PDF/UA Flyer Front Cover - Picture

(For download of these guides, click on the pictures above)



Lifebuoy - Picture

    Do you need help to create accessible PDF in compliance with PDF/UA?

    NewFormat help businesses to locate, map and analyze existing
    document resources as input for decision on needed actions to
    achieve full compliance with accessibility standards.

    To prepare of a few or limited number of PDF documents for universal accessibility
    can be daunting task, although possible to accomplish.

    But, what do you do if you are responsible for thousands of PDFs?
    You may not necessarily know where they all are, or you may not have
    the time and resources to check your files one at a time.

    With vast numbers of enterprise PDF documents stored on websites,
    networks, and computers, organizations are challenged with keeping tabs
    on accessibility standards compliance.

    Should you prepare the files on your own using a software tool,
    or should you hire an external resource to prepare the files as a service?

    We provide tools for creation, checking/validation and remediation,
    services and training, to make your PDF documents truly accessible
    for everyone according to the ISO Standard PDF/UA.

    Our services can regularly scan and crawl websites, internal networks,
    file systems, folders, files,... to locate existing document issues and
    compile an issue-report based on the findings.
    The status reports indicates the accessibility status of the PDF documents over time;
    including measures needed to remediate PDF documents for full PDF/UA compliance.
    Such fact reports are of indispensable value as a basis for your entity's
    continuous accessibility work and accessibility reports.


    Tools and services for successful use of PDF/UA for accessible PDF


    Audit mapping of document resources on your websites/domains

    We offer subscription services where we scan your websites/domains according
    to some desired regularity; e.g. once a year, every quarter, every week,...
    Provides insight into the status of existing PDF documents with respect to accessible PDF.

    Interesting?




More Information and Resources

PDF/UA - Icon


Warning - Icon

Warning for Inaccessible PDF!

    Today complex digital ecosystems are used to store enterprise information;
    like large volumes of digital documents and digital information defining
    how websites (with HTML/CSS/JavaScript pages, images, videos) and
    webb content are exposed towards visitors.

    Those documents are usually delivered as PDFs;
    think of all the forms, legal documents, white papers and
    other digital documents that your employees, customers and
    site visitors view every day from your website.

    Websites hosting inaccessible documents can be a significant
    liability risk even if you have fixed the websites's HTML content.

    Please be aware, the W3C/WCAG recommendation for accessible web does not itself
    guarantee that a PDF document exposed on the website is an "Accessible PDF".
    Instead, accessible PDF requires full compliance with the ISO Standard PDF/UA.

    Avoid litigation risks by ensuring that also all PDF documents on your
    website are accessible for everyone; with or without disabilities.



Access for All - PAC3 Check - Error - Does not comply with PDF/UA - Not an accessible PDF - Banner



For more information contact NewFormat


NewFormat AB

Smörblommegränd 14, SE-165 72 Hässelby (Stockholm), Sweden
tel:+46 (0)70 631 53 01

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are property of their respective owners.



PDF/UA - Ikon

Accessible PDF