The More I Know…

hands typing on computer

A long time ago I had a signature line on my email that read, “The more I know, the more I know I don’t know.” For the past several months I have immersed myself in PDF remediation, and that quote feels more relevant than ever!

When I first started remediating PDFs, I was happy just to eliminate the errors that show up when you do the accessibility check in Acrobat. Well, except for those two errors that always show up — the reading order and color contrast, which require manual checks — but I naively wondered how important they could be. Little did I know that eliminating the errors was just the first step! An automated check identifies only about 1/3 of potential errors — most of the work needs to be done by a human exercising judgment.

The most important check in a PDF is the reading order — and, to my surprise, you should not use the Reading Order panel! Reading order is actually controlled by the order of the tags in the Tags panel. To verify the reading order, click on the first tag in the tags panel, then use the down arrow on your keyboard to go through the tags in order. If the reading order isn’t logical, click and drag the tags into the right order.

Now that I have more experience remediating PDFs, I almost always start with the Tags panel. I can identify and remediate many common errors by working my way through the tags.

This article was contributed by Cindy Jouper, CPWA for the Accessibility Blog. Subscribe to her blog for monthly articles, tips, and professional development opportunities delivered to your inbox.