Just because you pass that checker does not mean that your document is that is compliant. It means that the automated testing tools and items that it’s been testing for have met a passing condition. This means it can’t check for things like meaningful alt text, or the paragraphs have the right designation, that of heading is set at the right level. All of those things require that manual check. Now, Pac3 is another accessibility checker. And it checks for another requirement called PDF/UA. Now, PDF/UA is a more technical compliance level.
I wouldn’t say it’s harder or more stringent, but it requires a higher regulation level. To follow what the PDF/UA, the guidelines have set forth. Another tool is called Callus PDFgoHTML. And I use this one to check my tables right. So, this is a table that can be the bane of your existence when it comes to accessibility. And when I’m having trouble, and I can’t figure out what’s going on.
HTML Styled Version
I’ll use this plugin. It’s a free plugin, CallusPDFGo. It generates an HTML styled version of your PDF. And it will show you very clearly what you can see in this image here we have on the screen. There is a table with three columns and four rows. One of which is a heading row. And it clearly shows that the table headings are marked in a high a brighter purple, and the table data cells are all marked in a lesser purple. It gives you an obvious picture of where you might be missing a cell or when something might not be quite the way you expect it to be. SoI find it a handy tool.
There are also other commercial programs like Commonlook and Axes and Fox it. Those programs will help you get quicker at remediating PDFs and making them more compliant. They have a lot of tools built-in for speed so that you can do things. But I will tell you, it is essential, at least in my opinion, that you have a firm foundation of what accessibility is, what the guidelines are, and how to comply with them. Because when those tools don’t work exactly how they’re planned, you need to know, right, you don’t want to be using the tool you spit out this document you think is compliant? Well, I did all the things inside the program, only to find out that there you’ve created some accessibility barrier because a tag structure didn’t get exported the right way or because some item didn’t come out quite the way you wanted it to.
How to Speed up our Workflow
So it’s still essential that even though we have access to these tools that speed up our workflow and make things a little easier for us, we understand the remediation principles we’re trying to comply with. So, screen readers are also available tools for us to check our PDF. It is one thing to walk through with the tags and going through the tags tree and making sure that you checked off all the boxes that your document is compliant with. It is a whole nother thing to make sure that your document is being voiced in the way you want.
And I’m going to show you some examples of what I mean. But you really need to take the opportunity to test your document with a screen-reader, and NVDA is a free screen reader. So really, there is no excuse for Apple Voiceover. If you’re on a Mac, you have Apple Voiceover, which will give you a very close experience to NVDA. But it is a little different. So JAWS is another most popular screen reader out there. It’s right now, NVDA and JAWS are very close in, in popularity. But if you use one or the other, you’re going to be pretty right on with what most people will have as a common experience.
JAWS Commercial Cost
I think the JAWS commercial cost is $90 a year, I think, for a license. And, of course, Android has an accessibility feature of its own, which will again give you a different experience. But really, NVDA and JAWS are definitely the go-to tools. Right? So screen readers, like I said, no reason not to use a screen reader. I implore you to take a basic class. DequeUniversity has these tip sheets. They’ve got one for jaws and one free NVDA. And you really only need to know a couple of shortcut keys to be able to walk through your document. Test things like tables. Test things. Test your list to make sure your bullets are being voiced correctly. Make sure your Roman numerals are being voiced correctly. I bet you didn’t know some screen readers don’t voice Roman numerals. They don’t understand what they are.
So you hear ‘Eye vee’ or ‘iv’ depending upon the screenreader. Right? So, The next thing we’re going to talk about some of the pitfalls of testing with a screen reader, right. So the first pitfall is that there should be more than one way to navigate the document. If you don’t have the varied structure appropriate for your document, you’re giving people who use assistive technology a disservice. They’re not going to walk through the document the way that you would typically. They might pull up. This is an example of the list of lists. This is in JAWS, it shows you, hey, if I want to know ‘what are all my links?’ Just show me all the headings. How many graphics are in my document? Does my document have any forms? They’re going to inspect the document in a way that helps them get a sense of what the document structure is like, right? So if we don’t identify all of those elements in our document, we’re really doing them a disservice. The number two pitfall is meaningful content. Not everything is meaningful.