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PDF Accessibility Basics Series: Page Structure Q&A and Webinar Resources

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PDF and other document iconsLevel Access Accessibility Consultant James Thompson hosted the seventh of an eight-part webinar series on PDF Accessibility Basics on Thursday, December 21st: Page Structure.

There were a few questions during the webinar that we did not have time to address, so we’ve provided the answers in this post.

For more information, you can access the webinar slides, transcript, and recorded presentation here: Page Structure Webinar Resources.

Webinar Q&A

Q: When using the role map does it change all of the big blue text to H2? If there were more sections with big blue text?

A: That is correct; all instances of the custom tag get treated like the mapped role.

Q: Can’t you do the same thing by going to the tags and clicking Properties and change the tag to a Heading?

A: You can change individual tags that way, yes.

Q: So this is like changing the Styles in Word?

A: Similar, yes.

Q: 1) This is a generic question: if a pdf available for download from a website says, “No Tags available” in the tag panel, is that considered not accessible? 2) If then the user clicked, “Autotag Document” from the accessibility panel and can see the tags, would that make it an accessible pdf?

A: If the Tags panel displays “No Tags available,” the PDF is not accessible. If the end user uses the autotag feature, it may make the PDF readable, but very rarely does the autotag feature tag everything correctly.

Q: How are the non-standard tags assigned?

A: Non-standard tags come from other programs that export to PDF.

Q: If there is a custom role map that has the correct, for instance h3 role mapping, the AT will read it OK, right? Even though on the tag tree we will see Bold Text.

A: That is correct the role mapping determines what is announced by the screen reader.

Q: What does Span mean?

A: Span: A generic inline portion of text having no particular inherent characteristics. It can be used, for example, to delimit a range of text with a given set of styling attributes.

Q: What is the difference between edit CLASS role map and edit Role map?

A: Class maps store attributes that are associated with each element. Role maps allow each document to contain a uniquely defined tag set. By mapping these custom tags to predefined tags in Acrobat, custom tags are easier to identify and edit.

Q: Do you need to leave Span tags? or should you change them to the appropriate tag?

A: I change them to their appropriate tags unless they mark a subsection of a paragraph.

Q: what should you do if a list span multiple pages? Is it correct when Acrobat re-starts the list on the second page or should they be merged into one?

A: Lists should span across the pages. If the list spans many pages you can break the list up so it doesn’t stall Assistive Technology.

Q: Shouldn’t the bullet be a <Lbl> and read “bullet”?

A: Ideally the bullet will be in the Lbl tag, but it is not necessary for it to be accessible. The bullet does need to be read in the LBody if it is not in the Lbl.

Q: How do you avoid bullets reading as text, such as “Y” instead of “bullet”?

A: The image of a bullet can be read as a character if the symbol used does not map appropriately in Unicode. As discussed in the Metadata and Reading Order webinar, you need to make sure that appropriate symbols are embedded in the document that is converted to PDF and in the PDF itself. You can either replace the symbol or tag it as a figure with the appropriate alt text.

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