Document Accessibility Unraveled
Chad Chelius and Dax Castro during an Accessibility Podcast with the Chax Chat Logo between them.

Understanding Accessibility Guidelines: WCAG, PDF/UA, Matterhorn Protocol

Dax Castro
Welcome to another episode of Chax Chat. Join Chad Chelius and me Dax Castro, where each week we wax poetic about document accessibility topics, tips, and the struggle of remediation and compliance. So sit back, grab your favorite mug of whatever, and let’s get started.

Chad Chelius
Welcome, everyone. Today’s podcast is sponsored by AbleDocs, makers of axesWord, axesPDF, as well as document remediation services. So we want to thank them for being our sponsor on today’s podcast. My name is Chad Chelius. I’m an Adobe-certified instructor, accessible documents specialist, as well as a consultant.

Dax Castro
And my name is Dax Castro. I am an Adobe Certified PDF Accessibility Trainer, as well as an Accessible Document Specialist as certified by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals. And today, it is Episode 20, Chad. Can you believe that?

Chad Chelius
Wow, 20 episodes. Man, I feel like we just started this podcast.

Dax Castro
I know, and it is so great. We are steadily climbing. We’re at about 625-650 downloads a month, which is pretty darn good for accessibility. I mean, of course, we want everyone listening to this podcast to go out and tell one of their other friends, just one other person.

Chad Chelius
Yes, we did.

Dax Castro
And that would be great. But we’re so happy that you guys joined us today, because we have some great topics. And one of the topics we’re going to talk about is accessibility standards [that] you should know. And Chad, you monitor our Facebook group PDF accessibility. And you know [that] people are always asking questions that really could be easily found if they looked up the standard starting “where”. Where would you start if you’re trying to find an answer kind of low level?

Chad Chelius
Well, probably low level. I would start with WCAG. I mean, you know [that] WCAG is kind of like – I don’t want to call it – the low hanging fruit because I mean, WCAG compliance is very robust, very thorough, but as far as like attaining remedial… Maybe not attaining remediation, but attaining an accessible PDF file or making a document accessible, WCAG is kind of an efficient way of confirming that your document is compliant.

Dax Castro
Right. And if you go to https://www.w3.org/WAI/, and in the menu, if you click on “Standards and Guidelines“, which is the very far right hand one or the – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – 6th menu item in the main navigation. It brings up the “W3C Accessibility Standards Overview”. Now a lot of us, we jump right to the guide, right to the Technical Standard, but there is some other good stuff in here in relation to accessibility that are complements, to not just understanding the guideline, but understanding some of the technology around it, authoring tools, user agents, there’s some pronunciation, and then there’s technical specifications related to ARIA and some other stuff for web, but also, obviously, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. And, you can start walking through that content there.

Dax Castro
You know, the other thing I always tend to do is I tend to just open up Google and search for the issue that I’m thinking of. You know, maybe it’s info and relationships, or it’s color contrast. But if you just go to Google (www.google.com) and you search WCAG color contrast. Let’s just say, “color contrast”. And you just look for any of the links that start with W3C, the very first one that comes up is Understanding Success Criteria 1.4.3 Contrast Minimums. And that’s kind of where I typically start. And that gives me the URL that tells me what the basic rule is.

Chad Chelius
So one of the categories is intent. And the intent of this success criterion is to provide enough contrast between text and its background, so that it can be read by people with moderately low vision, who do not use contrast enhancing assistive technology. It kind of explains exactly what the success criterion of this particular rule is for in very plain English, I will add.

Dax Castro
Yeah. And there is a course that I teach, called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines in Plain English. And I taught it at the InDesign and Accessibility Conference, that’s actually coming up in a few months later this year, but I taught it last year. I might consider teaching it again this year, [or] at least proposed to teach it again this year, because it’s… You know, I literally walk through each one of these guidelines and talk about the intent. And what is this really trying to say? Because I think a lot of people get caught up in the details and they forget that there’s a basic principle that we’re trying to apply to make the document more accessible.

Chad Chelius
Absolutely. Only a PDF remediator would find that talk riviting. Like, “Let’s listen to Dax Castro walk through all of the success criteria and for the WCAG, for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. But I mean, honestly, like, if you’re a PDF remediator, you’re going to learn something in that session.

Dax Castro
And you’re gonna see a fantastic blazer and tie, because I am always on point when you see my sessions, absolutely. But you know what Chad, there’s some additional resources down at the bottom of the page, almost two-third of the way down. So if you go down to the area that says “Resources”… And actually, just above that there’s “Benefits”. People with low vision often have difficulty reading text that does not contrast with its background. And this can be exacerbated if the person has color vision deficiencies, that [lowers] contrast even further. So it tells you what’s the benefit, the “Why”. Why does this really matter? And then there’s a bunch of cool resources: color contrast analyzer, all these different color contrast tools. I wish they would maybe list my tool, my InDesign plugin for color contrast that you can find on www.accessibilityscripts.com by the way.

Chad Chelius
Absolutely.

Dax Castro
And then it gives you some techniques, some situations. So if you scroll down there a little bit, you’ve got G18. And some of these don’t necessarily apply to documents, but they can definitely give you information on the rule as a whole. If text is less than 18 point and not bold, or less than 14 point and bold, then there’s some criteria, there’s some stuff that’s going to tell you and give you some different situations. So definitely, there’s a lot more here than just the rules.

Chad Chelius
And there’s a really great section in here called “Sufficient Techniques”, which is really great, because they kind of outline a couple of different situations. So they have Situation A, where it says: “Text is less than 18 point if not bold, and less than 14 point if bolt.” And then it kind of goes over a couple of the parameters that apply to that situation.

Dax Castro
You know, it’s funny, Chad. I always struggle with how to tell people right font size minimums. I’m always like 18 point bold, or 14 point and bold, or 18 point and not bold, like this actually if text is less than 18 point and not bold… The text right here, I’m going to steal this from now on. It’s the best. It seems to be the most least confusing way to say it. Because I always say, if it’s 18 point, 18, 17, 16, 15 [or] anything not bold up to 18 point. [But] if it’s 19 point, then now it’s considered large text. And so you have to have this weird awkward conversation about to kind of reinforce that point of… Because you’ll always get the question, “Well, what if it’s 17 point and not bold?” And you’re like, “Yeah, that’s so considering.” So you know, it’s interesting.

Chad Chelius
Well, yeah, and you know, it’s funny, because I mean, these are very… The guidelines are created for a very general audience. You know what I mean? Like, they don’t count on having designers like me or like you as part of the audience, because I ran into this with a client – it was a bank – and you know, banks always have documents that they put out, and then there’s always the fine print. Well, here in the United States, legally, that text has to be a minimum of 6-point in size.

Dax Castro
Oh no way.

Chad Chelius
Yeah, it’s actually like a legal thing. But as a designer, we know that some fonts have a smaller x-height than others. And so I don’t want to say it’s cheating, because technically, it’s 6-point, but you’re obviously going to pick a font that has a small x-height, so you can cram even more text in there. So the same thing applies here. I mean, you could say 18-point, but if it’s a font with a small x-height, probably, effectively it might be 16-point compared to a lot of other.

Dax Castro
Well, and you know what’s funny, you bring that up, Chad. Because if you look on contrast minimums, if you look under the section for intent of this success criterion, there’s actually a green note one and two that talks about that very thing. It talks about one point equals 1.33 pixels. Therefore, 14 point and 18 point or the equivalent of 18.5 pixels and 24 pixels [respectively]. So it literally says here.

Chad Chelius
Right. Yeah, they are paying attention to that. That’s really interest.

Dax Castro
But you know what’s funny is, of course, someone’s gonna go to court and be like, “I pick 6-point. What do you want me to do? I’m not a fontographer. I don’t understand this.” And then they’re…

Chad Chelius
I think that’d be a hard fight.

Dax Castro
Well, you know, it goes back to intent. They’re trying to do something under pretty easily to think so. So the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines [is] definitely a place you should have bookmark, definitely look at those eyes success criteria. You know, another thing though, Chad, is something that I didn’t know for a while is the PDF techniques area of WCAG. Right?

Chad Chelius
Oh yeah, yep. And you know, I refer clients do that a lot. Because one of the things that I often get asked and this is one of the challenges of teaching PDF remediation to people that they will say to me, “Do you have a checklist of all of these things in one handy location?” And you know, the one thing I’ll say about PDF remediation, in general is, the order that you do things is not really super important. I mean, to some degree it is, because, logically, you’ll want to do certain things before others. But if you want to add the title at the very end, add it at the very end, or if you want to do it as a first thing, do it as the first thing. But you’re right, Dax. If you do a quick Google for a WCAG. PDF, one of the first results you’ll get, and it’s going to be a www.W3.org link is the PDF techniques for WCAG 2.0.

Dax Castro
And I’ll stop you there for a second, Chad. You know, on our website, I tried to mention this every podcast, because I never know when people are gonna start listening to us. On our website, our podcast is fully transcribed and things that we talk about in our session, we always link to, so if you don’t want to Google or you want to read this (the podcast) instead of listening to us, then go to the website, www.chaxchat.com, look for this session, and you’ll see [that] we’ve linked to all of the things we’re talking about. And because we’re going to talk about some other references, but I just wanted to get that out there. Remember that our podcast is fully transcribed so.

Chad Chelius
Absolutely. And when you go to that webpage, you’re going to see on the left hand side, there’s basically like, 23 kind of criterion. And these are like you know… I’ll just read a few. Apply all text to images, boom! Create bookmarks, ensure correct tab and reading order. You know what I mean? Like, these are all the things that have to be done to your PDF to make sure that they’re compliant. And if you guys… You know, you probably hear all of the people referencing WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1. Even though this says PDF techniques for WCAG 2.0, it’s still absolutely relevant. There was not much in WCAG 2.1 that apply to PDF accessibility. Correct, Dax?

Dax Castro
You know what, I’d have to pull up my presentation about that, but I want to say there was only just a handful. One of which actually is kind of controversial, which is document reflow, which is a new technique that supports the idea of the order panel, and setting the order for your document, because it says that your document should be able to be reflowed for various screen readers. And I know the intent was [that] for a web page or a mobile app, it can be displayed on a tablet or a phone or whatever device, but it also applies to assistive technology for people using screen readers that might reflow the document.

Dax Castro
And so there’s a lot of people out there or there is a segment of the population that says you don’t have to set the order panel. You should only use the tags tree. And while I do understand the thought process behind that, there is an argument to be made for setting the read order panel or what we do, which we teach chat. And you know this very well, if you start messing around with that read order panel, you’re going to screw up your tag stream. So when you set the read order, use the content panel to adjust that order, and you’re going to find none of your tags move, and everything’s gonna be good to go.

Chad Chelius
Yep, yeah, you’re absolutely right. And you know, one of the ways that I will demonstrate that concept is, in Adobe Acrobat, you can go to the view menu, and go down to the zoom sub-menu and choose reflow. The shortcut for that is “cmd + 4” or “Ctrl 4”. To be fair, Acrobat does not do a very good job of doing that. And to be fair, Dax, I don’t know any other applications that do that. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other applications that do that. I’m just not familiar with which ones you would use to make that happen. But one of the big problems with Acrobat is, it shows the reflow content on a white background. Well, if you have any white text, you’re not gonna see.

Dax Castro
You’re not gonna see, yep.

Chad Chelius
You know, it says…

Dax Castro
We’ve asked Rob couple of times to… Rob Haverty from Adobe. If you’re listening to us, contend. We’d love to see that text, right?

Chad Chelius
Yeah.

Dax Castro
Convert all white text, but convert all colored text to black text in reflow, that would make it simple. And it would force people to stop using color as a means of communicating information. Because if you know when reflows it’s all black, then you better have something besides color to differentiate.

Chad Chelius
But one of the other ways that you can sort of see this in practice, and I personally a huge fan of this. If you use Acrobat on a mobile device, so on an iPad, on an iPhone, on an Android device, Adobe has recently come out with something that they call liquid mode. And liquid mode is an automated method by which Adobe reflows the content in a PDF file. So when I’m viewing pages on a web browser, I always use reading mode. I love how it just gets all the crap out of the way, and I could just focus on the content. And that’s what liquid mode reminds me of.

Chad Chelius
Now, I had a conversation with Leonard Rosenthal, who is the… I don’t know what his official title is with Adobe, but he’s like the PDF guru with Adobe. And I had asked him about this. And basically Adobe behind the scenes is tagging the content automatically. And I said to Leonard, I’m like, “Well, Leonard, that’s amazing.” I said, “Well, will it use my tags if I give it, you know, if I have it?” And he’s like, “No, we retag everything.” And I’m like, “Ah!” You know, so I mean, you know, and it’s the first iteration. So I’m not going to… I’m certainly not going to beat up Adobe about it. I would assume that at some point, they’re going to start honoring any existing tags, but for now they’re kind of tagging it themselves, but it does a really good job. Like, I mean… You know, I’ve already been out in my yard, reading a manual for my lawn mower, trying to fix something, and you and I know, reading a PDF on a mobile device is horrible. You know, it’s horrendous.

Dax Castro
Pinch and zoom, pinch and zoom, pinch and zoom.

Chad Chelius
Pinch and zoom, pinch and zoom. And so a liquid mode just really made it a lot easier, because I could just scroll and I could look to where I wanted to go, and it was a much better experience. So that kind of goes back to our point that we always say, DAX, [that] accessibility benefits everyone.

Dax Castro
Exactly. You know, we’re talking about WCAG 2.1. And you know what’s new? I did find my PowerPoint presentation on that. And there are 17 new success criteria. Five are Level A, seven are double A, and five are triple A requirements. And some of the ones, I won’t go through them all, but some of the ones, [for example] 1.4.11, which is non-text contrast, is a new one, which further defines non-text color contrast. Identifying input purpose for forms – 1.3.5. That can happen because we have forms and PDFs, for sure. And then there is one, that’s interesting. And actually, this brings up one of the things on our Facebook group “PDF Accessibility“, there was a question about minimum font size. And the person said, “How do I get my client to use a minimum font size and spacing because they’re trying to cram a bunch of stuff into a small area and that’s a violation of WCAG?” And I said, “Hmm, not so much.” Like she is like, “But 1.4.12, Text Spacing, says that there should be a…” You know, when it goes through a series of spacings, it says, line height should be one and a half times the font size and spacing between paragraphs should be two times the font size.

Dax Castro
But one of the things they didn’t do was read a little farther down. And it says that PDFs are exempt from this rule. Because this rule is designed for CSS in web pages. The idea is, I should be able to make your text more spread out, or adjust the lettering or kerning in your HTML file without it breaking. And that’s really the point of the success criterion. But in a PDF, of course, we can’t do that, unless you have some kind of reflow or steroids kind of program. But in a native PDF, you really can’t change that font size. You can just zoom in and zoom out. So she has to be a little careful about some of these rules and how you interpret them. Go through and read it all, and make sure that you understand it enough to be able to speak on it with some good confidence. I think, it is the right word there.

Dax Castro
Knowing that what you’re gonna say is the right thing, right? Because we all mean well, right? We all want… All we’re trying to do is make things as compliant as possible. So other guides, Chad, other guides, so WCAG, we’ve kind of beat this one to death. WCAG has a lot on there. There’s a lot you can look at. But the Matterhorn Protocol is one of those other ones, right?

Chad Chelius
Yep, absolutely. That is a PDF that you can obtain. Dax, is this a free document?

Dax Castro
It is. It is a free document.

Chad Chelius
Okay.

Dax Castro
So you can just google “Matterhorn Protocol 1.1.” and you’ll get a document that is 20 pages. And what it is, is basically a series of checkpoints. It’s 31 checkpoints that allow you to test whether a document meets PDF/UA requirements. Now, this is PDF/UA, so it’s a different standard, right? It’s a model. I always say it’s a higher standard, but some people say, “Oh don’t say it’s a higher standard.” It’s a more technical standard. It allows you to feel confident that your documents is going to be technically as compliant as it can. Not necessarily focusing on user experience, but more focusing on the code, the tags, the structure, [and] those types of things.

Chad Chelius
Yeah. And it’s pretty well laid out. I mean, all of those checkpoints that you reference… Like, checkpoint one is real tagged content, and checkpoint two is role mapping, which… Now, of course, role mapping only applies to documents created by certain applications. So I mean, InDesign, for example, is one application that definitely leverages the role map, but it’s a great reference. And you know, it said, it’s not super lengthy and it’s very valid.

Dax Castro
Well you know, what’s interesting? So you talk about the checkpoint one, real content tag. If you open the Matterhorn Protocol, it gives you a series of checkpoints. In this one, there’s actually seven. And the first one is artifact is tagged as real content, in meaning, something that should be artifact is tagged as content. And that would be a failure, because you know meaningful content. And then real content is marked as an artifact. The opposite of that. So it walks you through content marked as an artifact is present inside tagged content. And you see this all the time, where PAC3 will flag something because you’ve got an artifact buried inside a figure tag or buried inside another tag, that’s a real tag. So this gives you some of these failure criterias. And I think the biggest thing I take away from this is, it expands your knowledge as you start walking through these checkpoints, even if they don’t exist in the current document you’re working on, they help you understand more of the errors that can occur. So when they do occur, you understand immediately what’s going on. Right?

Chad Chelius
Right. And a lot of… I mean, I think we’ve mentioned this in previous podcasts. I think, it’s really important for everybody to understand that everything in a PDF file has to have a tag. And if it doesn’t, it’s gonna fail. And the artifact tag is a strange one, only because anything tagged as an artifact doesn’t actually appear in the tags pane. So it’s not easily identifiable. You almost… I think, probably the easiest way to see it is to open up the content pane, and then you’d be able to identify what is actually artifacted, but you know the whole premise of an accessible PDF is that everything needs to be identified. And that’s what a tag does. A tag just identifies the role of various content composed. So if it’s a path, it’s going to be artifacted. If it’s an image, it’s going to be a figure. If it’s text, it’s going to be a paragraph or a heading or a cap. So you know that’s important.

Dax Castro
You know, the other thing to remember is that an artifact tag is really a tag, but it’s a designation, but it only belongs in the content panel. An artifact tag, according to PDF/UA, it says that no artifact tags should appear in the tag’s tree, but they should only appear in the content panel. And I even had an argument with Microsoft, well a discussion with Microsoft about their use of the artifact tag in the tag tree. Now I hear that they might be changing in the new version of PDF/UA 2, but I don’t know for sure. And you know, somebody posted on our Facebook group “PDF Accessibility” just yesterday about a…. He said, “Well, if it’s not in the articles panel in InDesign, then it automatically gets artifacting when you export a PDF.” But that’s not the case.

Chad Chelius
It’s not totally true. And that’s InDesign’s fault. And they… You know, because by write it… Well, you know what, Dax, it’s quasi true. And I say that because if it’s an image, and you don’t include it, it truly does get artifacts. But if it’s a path, it’s almost like InDesign ignores that object and just lets it pass through. And that’s where the problems usually occur. But you’re right. I mean, it’s a bit of a misconception. And to be honest, I might be guilty in that, I may have told people that in the past, because you know… And really what I meant to say was, if you don’t include it in the Articles panel, it will not appear in the tags pane. Some of it is artifacted, but some of it is right.

Dax Castro
And if your standard is WCAG 2.1, if you’re only remediating to WCAG, and you’re not trying to pass the PAC3, then it doesn’t matter. Because WCAG will not… There’s no rule in WCAG that says, “All content should have a tag.” So you can have. The only thing you can’t have is untagged hyperlinks, which are obviously untagged annotations. And we get those errors all the time, where someone puts a link in the header of their InDesign document, and it’s a 200-page document. They export it. Now all of a sudden, they have 200 untagged annotations, because InDesign artifact of the text, but the annotation itself can’t be artifact. It exists no matter what, and so you get those errors. So there’s some nuanced things to deal with there, but WCAG does not designate that you have to have, everything has to have a tag, so you can have untagged content in your document. So Chad, so Matterhorn protocol… Definitely, we’ll link to it in the show notes. That’s another good one. What’s another one, Chad?

Chad Chelius
The Tagged PDF Best Practice Guide. That’s another good one that kind of shows you… And this one is like a 70-page document. And you know, it’ll talk about – I’m just kind of clicking on different things – content that spans page. And this is… I love this. I love this right here. This is kind of like my… We deal with this all the time. Logical structure is agnostic to pagination. I think, I’m going to reuse that phrase, because that’s a great way of putting it, you know. And it just says accordingly, content Items that span two or more pages must each be linked to the logical structure in the right order without restarting the structure.

Dax Castro
Lists of everything that comes to mind. List of pages, you get two items on one page. And then one item on the other in the tags tree. It’s two l tags with two separate lists. Right?

Chad Chelius
Yeah. And that’s what you know… So word is a pretty big offender of that, right? I mean, as soon as you have a list that goes across two pages, it breaks it into two lists. I mean, it’s a pretty simple fix, but it is a fixed nonetheless. I mean, anything we have to do after the PDF is created is time and effort, you know.

Dax Castro
And that’s why you know, other problems like axesPDF or axesWord will actually fix that. So if you have a set of bullets, let’s say, you had three bullets, but after bullet one, you wanted to insert a paragraph, well, word when you try to export that, it’s going to break it automatically into two lists. But program like axesPDF or axesWord…

Chad Chelius
Say that again.

Dax Castro
Programs like axesWord will actually fix that and force it to combine that list into a proper one group item of a list with three items. So you know, there’s good stuff there. I think the biggest thing I take away from the syntax guide, is that WCAG gives you the general principles and some tools around how to do it [in] some situations. If I want to know, what’s the reference, what’s the code, what’s the principle behind this, what’s the rule, the specific rule for the PDF/UA, and of course, this best practice, syntax guide is related directly to PDF/UA, then this syntax guide starts to dip my toe into finding those rules. So if I’m trying to solve a complex problem, and I’m looking, in here, at 3.2.3, mapped text to Unicode.

Dax Castro
Now, it tells me, in cases where Unicode mapping is not available, like a logo encoded as text, or maybe the mapping of a private use area (a PUA), I’m not even sure what that is, but a custom symbol. Let’s just say, you’ve got a… This happens all the time or you have a bullet, some smiley face with a wavy hand or something that somebody made up and just made it into a font. But there’s no Unicode equivalent, there’s no text that defines what that symbol [is]. How that symbol should be voiced, this principle says, all text or actual text can be used as a replacement. And it talks… It gives you the ISO-32000… It gives you the ISO reference, the actual code reference to that rule. So you know, where WCAG just gives you the basic principle and some techniques. PDF/UA, the syntax guides, gonna give you the actual line item, you know, 14.8.2.4.2 Unicode mapping and the tag PDF. I mean, that’s really specific. And we’re going to talk about PDF/UA, and the ISO-14289 and ISO-32000, here in the next few minutes. But the idea behind this syntax guide is it gives me a little deeper dive, it gives me a little bit more information so that I can start traveling down that rabbit hole to trace down, what is the actual rule? What am I really trying to get at?

Chad Chelius
Yeah, yep.

Dax Castro
So I often start… If I get an error in common look, this is usually where I start. I’ll open up the best practices syntax guide and try to look at some of the tables or find the section for like artifacts or role maps or empty structure elements. This is actually one of those ones we see all the time in PDF 1.7 structure elements may be empty, and they do not need to enclose content directly. In other words, your TDs do not need to have content inside them to be valid. PDF/UA says it’s okay. But a lot of people say, “We want content in there anyway”, or they try to say, “Accessibility best practices says you should have content in there anyway”. And you know, I find that phrase a little misleading. Accessibility best practices is not really probably the phrase that they should use. It’s more about user experience. For the best user experience, we want to make the table as understandable as possible. Have them not have to think very hard when they’re walking through the table. And so therefore, you might consider adding content to blank cells that says an A or zero or whatever, and that will help them not have to think about “Oh wait, I just skipped a cell.” Okay. It must be blank, and move on.

Dax Castro
Well, and then we have the next step. We were kind of going high level, medium level like matter where in principle gives you just the checkpoints, the ISO 14289-1, Best Practices Syntax Guide gives you the next level of detail. But then there’s the actual ISO- 14289. Now this one is the document management application, electronic document file format enhancement for accessibility. It is part of the ISO. Well, it has its own ISO, but it relates to ISO-32000, which is the Bible for creating PDFs. But ISO-14289-1 is kind of the next iteration of going down the rabbit hole, getting more information.

Dax Castro
What’s interesting, and I think what frustrates a lot of people is, there are 9 chapters in this document. It is 24 pages. It’s not very long. And when it comes to accessibility, there’s only two chapters really that kind of talk about document accessibility. And one is, it’s chapter seven, file format requirements. And it kind of goes through text and graphics and headings and numbered headings, and it kind of gives you the technical… Stop for a second. It gives you the technical specifications. Like in 7.4.3 Additional Headings, if a PDF contains tags and requires more heading tags, tag numbers from upward without limit may be defined in used tags, to shall comply with all usage requirements listed in 7.4.2 for through . Now, you and I both know that although in PDF/UA, you can set or up, no screen reader will on the market today identifies those headings. So it’s a bit frustrating, because I wish more people would adopt the PDF/UA standard. If screen readers would be more compliant to PDF/UA, the documents would be more accessible, more robust, I mean, really, that’s what it comes down to.

Chad Chelius
Well, and I think it’s important. You know, I talked to Duff Johnson a while back. And you know, we just kind of were talking, we were waxing philosophical about PDF/UA. And he was kind of explaining to me that the whole concept of PDF/UA was to obviously create a standard, but not just for document remediators to follow, but for software developers to follow. And that’s the whole premise behind PDF/UA. And as you just mentioned Dax, I mean, the some of the assistive technologies, probably most of the assistive technologies out there are not fully PDF/UA compliant. And therefore, you know, if you were to use heading seven through nine, which is truly part of the PDF/UA standard, it fails because assistive technology doesn’t recognize it.

Dax Castro
Well, a prime example of that is an unnumbered heading. In InDesign, we teach us all the time. People think the title of their document should be an h tag, because they think logically title is not really a heading, it is the title. So they think, “Oh I’ll assign it a h tag, and then they go into their PDF document like, “But my document reads the title as a paragraph.” Like, yep, because assistive technology hasn’t caught up with it.

Dax Castro
And in PDF/UA, it says and 7.4.4, unnumbered headings, the generic heading H, and it gives a reference to the ISO-32000, and what table it is, should be used in strongly structured documents. “Documents that are strongly structured may use unnumbered headings.” In other words, there’s that time where you have an and then there’s a heading underneath it, but it’s not really an because the next section is an . How do you identify that? And this would be a perfect use for the h tag, but you can’t use it because no assistive technology actually does it. So it’s a bit frustrating. So Chad, you know, I’m not going to go another podcast without doing a who’s on Twitter. So today we have a “Who’s on Twitter”

Chad Chelius
Yeah, and today’s “Who’s on Twitter” is the American Association of People with Disabilities. Their account is @aapd. And the American Association of People with Disabilities, this is basically like a Twitter feed for accessibility legal ramifications for accessibility, which is… Well, we’re all interested in that. I mean, as you had pointed out previously Dax, you know, where, for example, you know some countries have oversight on accessibility. Here in the US, like, individual companies don’t really have that. And you had brought up the point that the oversight actually becomes the law suits, unfortunately.

Dax Castro
Welcome to America.

Chad Chelius
So it’s just a really… Yeah, welcome to America. This is just a really interesting twitter feed that talks about various legal elements. Here’s one, yesterday, the VP met with Texas legislators on voting rights, and today she hosted a roundtable with an incredible group of disability rights advocates from across the country. So, you know, just interesting topics on accessibility in the legal field.

Dax Castro
You know, I’ve actually worked on remediating some, and I can’t say what state it’s for, but I’ve worked on remediating some voter registration forms.

Chad Chelius
It’s interesting.

Dax Castro
And there are definitely accessibility issues. And one of which was they had a grid, where you had, if you are homeless and you live on the streets, they drew a look, there was a little picture of an intersection. And you were supposed to put an X on the intersection at the side of the intersection in which you live, and then describe the streets, the cross streets, but the forum was not really very accessible. And we worked on a solution. And I think we came out with a pretty good one that allows for that to be a thing. You know, the AAPD… Also, I see a post on here that says APPD is proud to support at White House and the VP and disability voting rights advocates in the fight to ensue. Everyone can vote. We’re excited to be hosting an amazing disability activists that met with the VP and continue discussing what needs to be done for the disability vote. So that’s… You know, if you’re into legislation for disability, I highly recommend following APPD. So we’ll link to that again in the show notes.

Chad Chelius
Yeah, interesting stuff.

Dax Castro
Well, Chad, we’re at that the end of our technical documents. The very last one is ISO-32000. And I will tell you, this is not for the faint of heart. This is almost 700 and some odd pages of if I wanted to write a program on how to create PDFs, I would use this as my reference. Like it is the most technical of technical of technical. But if I’m looking up what types of elements can be inside other elements, or what is the specific rule about a certain situation, or I’m really trying to get in the weeds to what an RB tag is, or some ASCII error that happens, you know, you get the optional content, ASCII error is basically missing a layer label. Those types of things you really kind of only can find, if you do a really deep dive.

Dax Castro
And ISO-32000, I cracked it open probably three or four times a year, maybe six times a year, and look through it. Now ISO-32000 and ISO-14289-1 are both paid guidelines. So in order to use them, to reference them, you have to go buy them. But I tell you, if you’re a techno nut like me, and you want to know the “Why” or you want to know the rule, you really should have these documents at hand. The PDF syntax guide is a great guide. Matterhorn Protocol is a great way to make sure you’ve kind of checked most of the boxes. But if you want the technical knowledge, the ISO-32000 and ISO-14289. I use ISO-14289 quite a bit, [but] ISO-32000 probably not so much.

Chad Chelius
Yeah, I mean, I’m just scrolling through this document. And I just found… You know, I get this question a lot where when we’re artifacting objects in Acrobat, people [are] like, “Well, what’s the difference between a page artifact and a layout artifact and a pagination artifact?” It’s right here. It’s right here in this document.

Dax Castro
So what section is that Chad?

Chad Chelius
Section 14.8.5.8, Artifact attributes.

Dax Castro
So all of the PDF format stuff, all the stuff that deals directly with accessibility in a PDF or technical knowledge in a PDF really is in chapter 14. Most of the other stuff is really not. It’s about literally generating graphics inside a PDF, not accessibility and graphics in a PDF. Chad Chelius
Like basically develop.

Dax Castro
Exactly code development.

Chad Chelius
But so like that said guys, you know, you may only crack this open a couple of times a year, but it’s great to have it as a resource. And listen, worst case scenario, if you’re having trouble sleeping at night, you just crack this sucker open, and in a matter of minutes, you will be asleep to world. No questions asked.

Dax Castro
Well, you know, here’s another one: layout standards for attributes. Any structural element can have placement, right mode, background color, border color, border style, border thickness, color, and padding. I mean, those are things that you wouldn’t really need to know until you need to know them, [and] you’re like, “Crap, why isn’t this tag? Why is this telling me my tag is invalid?” Well, maybe your tag was wrong, maybe you know…

Dax Castro
And so there’s lots of ways to kind of use this document, but you really aren’t going to use it until you need to know that. If you’re trying to find a needle in a needle stack, this is where you go. It is really the technical knowledge. But there are people out there like me, who really do stay up at night, because we want to know what this thing is, or what are my options, or how do I get this tag to behave the way I want it to. And you know, that is what it is. Well, Chad, it is the end of another episode. Another one in the can.

Chad Chelius
Thanks for joining us, guys.

Dax Castro
Yeah, we really appreciate it.

Chad Chelius
It’s been…

Dax Castro
Actually Chad, I want to tell you something. So news from a listener. So one of our listeners is actually from Norway, and said, “Hey, I…” He messaged me on Slack actually. Said, “Hey, I didn’t want to really post a comment on your website, but I read your podcast, because I don’t speak English as a first language. And reading English, I have a much better comprehension than listening to the podcast.” So there were some typos in the podcast, and I will… mea culpa, because it’s me. I did it kind of 2 o’clock in the morning, right before we were getting ready to post, and I missed a few things.

Dax Castro
And definitely, they were “in the sign” instead of “InDesign”. I mean, that’s definitely changes the meaning of a sentence and stuff like that. So I went back and tried to edit it a little better. So I’m gonna do my due diligence, but I just want to let everybody know, it’s Chad and I. We record this thing. We put it together. You know, AbleDocs is often the sponsor, but you know, it’s really our baby. And you know, we’re always trying to improve. So please keep that feedback coming. We want to stay honest. We want to stay right. And we want to give you guys the best podcast we can.

Chad Chelius
Yeah, and that absolutely could have been me too. I edit some of those transcripts as well. So it could have been me missing that. [So] don’t beat yourself up.

Dax Castro
Well, this one was definitely me. But you know, it makes me think about it: “We got to go back and look because it’s not just about typos.” When you have content, [and if] you have context errors [in there], those can be just as meaningful, just as misleading as the typos. So again, it goes back to captions, closed captions and that type of thing and being able to have accurate captions makes a big difference. So…

Chad Chelius
Yeah.

Dax Castro
Awesome.

Chad Chelius
So yeah guys, I mean, thank you for listening. Once again, if you’re a listener and you have any interest in being a sponsor for our podcasts, please reach out to us. We love to mix it up and have different companies supporting us and being able to be promote their products and services. So reach out and let us know. But as for this podcast, we want to once again,I want to thank AbleDocs for being our sponsor on today’s podcast. Once again, AbleDocs, are the makers of axesWord, axesPDF, as well as document remediation services. So again, thanks for your support our podcast. My name is Chad Chelius.

Dax Castro
And my name is Dax Castro and together we are Chax Chat. Remember we are streaming on every major platform out there under keyword “a11y” or “ChaxChat”. You can also find transcripts of our podcast on www.chaxchat.com. Chad and I are here each week as we unravel accessibility premium.

Chad Chelius
Thanks, guys.

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