Navigating Complexities: Challenges of PDF Accessibility

Mar 2 2023

Navigating Complexities and Challenges with PDF Accessibility

Samir Padte: Vice President - Content Delivery & Solutions
Samir Padte

Vice President - Content Delivery & Solutions

Navigating Complexities and Challenges with PDF Accessibility

PDFs have been around since the 1990s as a medium to exchange immutable documents electronically and were the first form of digital education. Today, they are an integral part of education across age groups in all e-learning solutions. Studies suggest about 4 in 10 students would like to use digital learning tools to learn more often. Digital learning platforms extensively use PDFs to give learners materials they can refer to whenever needed, so it is highly critical to ensure these documents offer inclusive learning experiences.

Where is the Gap?

How well do you think a person with abnormal motor function can access a PDF, and what about the visually impaired? Used in many information and online learning platforms, PDFs may not be accessible for many types of readers. Due to the growing need and compliances around DEI compatibility of digital learning solutions, the accessibility of PDFs has become a significant concern among teachers at schools and universities. Digital accessibility compliances will soon mandate ensuring that PDFs also follow accessibility guidelines.

How Can You Ensure Accessibility of Your PDFs?

Here is a checklist to ensure that PDFs in your learning solutions meet the accessibility requirements:

  • Personalize the document structure and reading order. 
  • Use accessibility tagging to help assistive technologies like motion/eye tracking.
  • Install security that does not interfere with assistive technologies such as audio assistants.
  • Ensure high scan quality and contrast for visually sensitive audiences.
  • Add text to scanned documents for note-making, etc.
  • Include alternative text formats for non-text elements.
  • Check that searchable text includes text this is part of images as well as running text.

Keep in Mind

The biggest challenge today is to make existing PDFs accessible, but the second is to ensure access to advanced technologies to help new PDFs created comply with the regulations.

Teachers must create lessons and other learning materials using an authoring tool that:

  • Helps to create tagged PDFs and tag the existing ones.
  • Has an accessibility checker to identify any deviations from digital accessibility compliances.
  • Allows instructors to set a dynamic reading order to customize lessons for diverse learner needs and learning goals.
  • Allows readers to access the text without letting them extract it.
  • The ability to set the document properties, such as title and comments.
  • The reader can expose them through the title bar of the viewing application.
  • Allows lessons to be augmented with collapsible pop-ups to use audio assistance, image guides, etc.

To Sum Up

Ensuring accessibility for existing and new PDFs could seem like a gigantic task, but partnering with the right technology partner makes it seamless. MRCC EdTech has partnered with educational publishers, schools, universities, and EdTech companies to meet the digital accessibility compliances like WCAG, Section 508, ADA, etc. Our digital accessibility solutions consist of an array of tools to elevate the experiences of differently abled learners.

We can ensure your digital learning products and platforms cater to the needs of diverse learners, and meet inclusivity requirements. We have processes and tools in place that can help you evaluate how well-prepared your solutions are to face the DEI-compliant regulatory framework. Talk to our experts to learn more.

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