PDF Accessibility Solution Q&A: How Does it Work?

Actuate’s PDF Accessibility Solution tags online PDF documents for high-volume print streams, making them accessible for visually impaired customers, who can then access their transactional information using screen reader technology. How exactly does it work? Find out as we answer some of the questions our customers have asked.

Xenos Developer Studio - Tagged PDF

Figure 1. Accessible Statement: Tagged PDF

Q: How does Actuate make online documents accessible without manual tagging?

To capture high-volume print streams and transform them into tagged, accessible PDF documents without manual tagging, we leverage Developer Studio (in action in Figure 1) and Field Technology which can map individual elements on the page, and ultimately tag those for use in a PDF. This tagging capability gives us the ability to identify language as it’s going to be spoken aloud audibly. It also dynamically replaces font and text and extracts document content for indexing and loading. It’s designed for very high-volume environments, though we do have customers who are using it in lower volume environments as well.

Q: When you have multiple frames of information and some of them are side by side, how do you identify reading order?

Every document has individual elements, including images and logos. Field Technology graphically maps and defines the logical structure and reading order by setting up ordering through numbered content (See Figure 1). These markers define the reading order for the text on each page, letting the screen reader technology know which section to read first, second and so on.

Q: How are pie charts represented?

There are different ways to handle graphics like these. In some cases, we can add alternate text to the image itself, then mark up individual percentages so that they can be read either before or after the image, depending on the preferences of each company’s accessibility experts. Sometimes the pie chart is a complete image – including the numbers. In those cases, we work with our clients to determine the best options: either adding additional comments that define the image further, pointing to somewhere else on the page to get relevant information or pulling information from a relevant database.

Q: What about tables?

There are agreed-upon tag sets for structuring documents that allow screen access software to work through a table, explore a column or a row, and associate headers with that row or column – all so that the screen reader works its way through the table, properly determines numbers or what belongs where, no matter how that table’s structured.  Field Technology graphically defines the table structure, row and column elements, including the required tags to ensure that screen readers can access the information presented.

For more information on the Actuate’s PDF Accessibility Solution, view the solution datasheet.

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