PDF Accessibility and Compliance


A Breakdown of EU Web Accessibility Directive & PDF Accessibility on Your WebsiteGuest Article From Our Friends at Monsido

A Breakdown of EU Web Accessibility Directive & PDF Accessibility on Your Website Guest Article From Our Friends at Monsido

This guest article is written by Jasmine de Guzman, Field Marketing Manager at Monsido – a SaaS company focused on web governance and accessibility compliance.

Jasmine has a background in the website builder and SaaS space, and she’s all about sharing her knowledge to help others improve their digital marketing and communications. On a daily basis, Jasmine focuses on sharing insights on web accessibility via Monsido webinars, blog posts, partner channels, and more.

It’s been nearly a year since the EU Web Accessibility Directive came into effect, requiring all websites of public sector organizations within the EU to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)<.1 AA standard.

And while the websites of public sector organizations have been in focus, many have overlooked that downloadable documents, such as PDFs, are also considered digital content.

In this blog post, we’ll review the EU Web Accessibility Directive entails, who it applies to (as well as how this translates to the UK), and how to address PDF accessibility on your website.

EU & UK Web Accessibility Legislation

The EU and UK implemented new directives and regulations in 2018 to boost web accessibility, especially for public sector organizations. The EU Directive (officially known as Directive (EU) 2016/2102) deadline for compliance was September 23, 2020. The regulation is based on a standard called EN 301 549 that adopts WCAG 2.1 AA.

The UK Regulation (officially known as Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018) was an adaptation of the EU Directive following the UK leaving the European Union.

So, what do these pieces of legislation mean?

Both pieces of legislation aim to improve the digital accessibility of websites and digital documents available for download on websites. From a PDF and document perspective, it means an added step of ensuring proper document tagging before uploading to any public domain associated with your website.

Who do these regulations apply to?

Both the EU Directive and UK Regulation are specifically designated for public organizations. However, both legislations strongly encourage private organizations that interact with the public regularly (such as healthcare, private schools, etc.) to comply with WCAG 2.1 AA standards.

How to address PDF accessibility on your website

Addressing PDF accessibility on your website won’t happen overnight. Just like with website accessibility, it’s crucial to have a realistic plan for compliance.

Here are a few quick tips for addressing PDF accessibility compliance issues on your website:

  • An accessibility statement: Make sure that your website has an accessibility statement. Feel free to add details on how you approach PDF and document accessibility.
  • People: Educate your team on the importance of digital accessibility, as well as digital document accessibility.
  • Prioritize: Identify where PDFs are on your website and prioritize which need to be remediated first (for example, the most popular downloads).
  • Processes: Implement a process for document accessibility by either designating an internal person for document remediation or working with a third-party vendor for document remediation.
  • On-going audits: Make sure that you have a plan for ongoing accessibility compliance on your website. Accessibility is not a set it and forget it exercise. It’s essential to do regular audits for PDFs and documents that may accidentally get uploaded without being remediated.

Curious to learn more? Check out Monsido’s blog post, Everything You Need To Know About The EU Web Accessibility Directive.

Join our FREE upcoming webinar

illustration of a computer screen showing banner of a webinarWhether you’re new to PDF accessibility or already remediating documents on your website, then we encourage you to join our upcoming webinar on Addressing PDF Accessibility on Your Website, with a special focus on the EU and UK accessibility regulations.

The webinar will be hosted on September 8 at 2 PM Central European Time, 1 PM British Standard Time, or 8 AM Eastern Time.

Register today!  Can’t join live? Sign up anyway, and we’ll send you the recording.