Universally Accessible PDF standard, PDF/UA, is now available

Written By: Peter Abrahams
Content Copyright © 2012 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: Accessibility

ISO 14289-1:2012 (PDF/UA) was published on 7 August.

Over the years I have written about the accessibility of PDF files, or the lack of it. My analysis included a Market Update on ‘Accessible Document Creation‘ which was published three years ago. The problem I had developing that report was that there was no standard for accessible PDF to measure against. To assess the different PDF creation products I had to define my own criteria based on expert opinion on best practice at the time.

This new standard will enable me to revisit the creation of accessible PDF documents using an internationally agreed definition of what should be produced.

Duff Johnson, the chairman of the committee that wrote the standard, has written an excellent blog on the standard which I would recommend reading. I played my small part in the development of the standard by sitting in on a number of the conference calls and I hope my comments, or pedantry, helped to ensure the clear, brief and precise nature of the final product. I would like to add my thanks to Duff and the committee for doggedly sticking to the task and the quality of the final result.

PDF/UA was originally conceived to ensure that people with disabilities (especially visually impairments) would be able to access PDF documents. Like many accessibility functions it has been shown to be of interest to a much wider audience; for example it enables PDF files to be reflowed so they can be comfortably viewed on small mobile devices, it eases navigation around a document, and can improve search engine results.

The standard is targeted at developers of PDF creation tools, PDF readers and AT tools. It will also be of interest to people who evaluate (like myself), buy or use these products as it will enable them to ask the vendors about how the standard is supported and if not why not.

You can buy your own copy of ISO 14289-1:2012 at the webstore for CHF 86.