Why enterprises and government organizations make documents accessible

by Stanley Chow, Sr Product Marketing Manager

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Most governments have laws in place that require electronic information that’s developed or purchased to be made accessible to vision- and hearing-impaired individuals. Section 508 requires that federal agencies provide public information that is accessible to all. While this law applies to the federal level, many states have adopted similar laws to accommodate the citizens they serve.

Many businesses and private organizations have adopted similar accessibility policies, too. But besides simply to follow regulations, more importantly, incorporating accessibility is just good business practice. Making your documents accessible expands your company’s reach to a sizable portion of the population. That’s because the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) estimates that there are more than one billion people who have a disability, which is 15% of the world’s population. But most importantly, by baking accessibility into your communication strategy, you are positioning your company as an inclusive-minded enterprise, thus boosting your brand image in the public eye.

From a compliance standpoint, incorporating accessibility staves off legal problems that come from leaving documents inaccessible. In fact, there were 2,258 lawsuits in the USA related to digital accessibility in the year 2018 alone. Making your documents accessible mitigates the risk of potential lawsuits filed by disability advocacy groups.

So how do you ensure you’re creating an accessible PDF? First, let’s define what we mean by the term accessibility. It is, quite simply, designing products, services, devices, and environments for people with disabilities. In this case, you can think of a document as a product in that it’s an item that your organization produces. A fully accessible PDF complies with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA standards laid out by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). All elements of a PDF must be correctly tagged so that the document is fully readable by assistive technology like screen-readers. Any containing images must have accompanying alternate text, while the text’s color contrast must meet a contrast ratio of 4.5:1.

Now that we have a firm understanding of what accessibility is for documents, here are a few ways Foxit Solutions can make your PDF documents fully accessible while minimizing manual effort.

Tag your PDF automatically

Because they provide a hidden structure representation of the PDF content that’s text-based, and present content reading order to screen-readers, tags are a foundation for creating accessible PDF documents. PhantomPDF’s Autotag analyzes an entire PDF and tags each item accordingly. Autotag will categorize each element as a heading, paragraph, figure, list item, table, or form field and apply the appropriate tag, saving you time and effort over manual tagging and providing consistency and accuracy.

Automate High-Volume Document Accessibility

Optimizing just one of your documents for accessibility takes careful time and precision. When tasked with optimizing a backlog of unremediated documents, this suddenly becomes a massive undertaking. Foxit’s PDF Compressor has advanced auto-tagging features designed to solve this very problem, by automatically creating tagged PDFs from both electronic files and scanned-in documents – all at scale. The process is simple: Drag and drop files into an IT-configured folder and PDF Compressor will automatically convert them into fully accessible documents. No matter the document type, PDF Compressor ensures that your documents are accurately tagged for regulatory compliance.

Evaluate document compliance with the Accessibility Checker

Once you’ve remediated a document, you can run a complete accessibility check of the file to ensure that the document is compliant with WCAG 2.0 AA standards. That’s because PhantomPDF allows you to evaluate the accessibility of your documents and print an Accessibility Report if need-be.

Automate the entire process with the Action Wizard

Another way to automate the accessibility process within PhantomPDF is by taking advantage of the Action Wizard tool. The Action Wizard automates multiple steps which makes it easy for users who need to make documents accessible to learn the process.

So, if you want to ensure your PDF documents are accessible, especially if you’re in a business or organization that needs to meet Federal standards for user accessibility, take comfort knowing that Foxit PDF software enables you to provide the PDF accessibility you and your users need.


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