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Welcome to the December issue of the CommonLook Accessibility Newsletter!

Quick. Easy. Painless. Free. Not usually the words associated with ensuring accessibility and compliance of electronic documents, as anyone tasked with the job will tell you. That’s all about to change with this month’s debut of the all-new CommonLook PDF Validator! Our new tool is the only checker that allows you to check your electronic documents against WCAG 2.0 AA, Section 508, PDF/UA, and HHS standards! Best of all? It’s free!

Were you able to attend last month’s Accessing Higher Ground Conference in Westminster, Colorado? Whether you were there in the flesh, as a virtual conference-goer, or too busy with Thanksgiving turkey prep to attend, we’ve got the recap.

Plus, 5 useful, proactive tips to make those final steps in assuring your PDF’s compliance easier.

As always, we welcome your suggestions for upcoming topics and would like to know what you think of NetCentric’s CommonLook Accessibility Newsletter.

Use this link to share your comments or story ideas with the CommonLook Accessibility Newsletter staff.


We Hope You Enjoy!

The CommonLook Accessibility Newsletter Team

CommonLook Releases New Free PDF Validator!!

It’s free. It’s easy. And it’s the only PDF checker that will test your documents against Section 508, WCAG 2.0 AA, PDF/UA and HHS standards.  The CommonLook PDF Validator is here!

Available now for free download*, the CommonLook PDF Validator software tool allows users to certify a document is in compliance with any selected accessibility standard and will provide a documentation report as such.

The CommonLook PDF Validator enables users to customize the checkpoints within any standard to fit the specific needs of your organization. The free tool also allows users to test proper reading order, sufficiently descriptive alternative text, accurate tables summaries for complex tables, and more!

Take the first step toward ensuring compliance and accessibility of your electronic documents – download the CommonLook PDF Validator today!

Request your free copy of the CommonLook PDF Validator and see how CommonLook exceeds your accessibility expectations


5 Things To Check Before Doing an Accessibility Full Check in Adobe Acrobat Pro

Often we are concentrating on the bigger issues with tagged PDF and forget the small things that may get flagged when we do an Accessibility Full Check in Acrobat Pro. To save time in looking through the Accessibility Full Check Report, here are three things that will get flagged if not checked, and two best practices for finishing a tagged PDF document that may also get flagged.

Document Title

Make sure the tagged PDF document has a title. This is one of the “most flagged” items in an Accessibility Full Check.

This item is flagged by CommonLook Global Access PDF/UA Accessibility Check or a WCAG 2.0 Accessibility Check and must be verified by the user, so you need to manually make this repair in Adobe Acrobat Pro.

To make this repair in Adobe Acrobat Pro: Press Ctrl + D while in Adobe Acrobat Pro to open the Document Properties dialog and add a title on the General tab.


This is another “most flagged” item. Each tagged PDF document must have a core language. Even if the document is multilingual, the document itself must have an identified language.

Natural Language is flagged in CommonLook Global Access using either the PDF/UA Accessibility Check or the WCAG 2.0 Accessibility Check and requires user verification or repair in Adobe Acrobat Pro.

To check the language of a PDF document in Adobe acrobat Pro, press Ctrl + D to open the Document Properties dialog and go to the Advanced tab. Language is near the bottom of the dialog. Pressing Alt + L will quickly take you to the Language edit box.

Tip: The language should be a “vanilla” version such as English, French or Spanish. By identifying the language as “eng-CA,”. for Canadian English, “eng-US” for American English or “fr-CA” for Canadian French, the person who is using screen reading or Text-to-Speech tools are forced to listen to the document with localized pronunciations they are not used to hearing. This creates a barrier to the content and the readability of the text. Use the generic English, French, Spanish and so forth when identifying languages in a tagged PDF document.

Tab Order

The third “most flagged” item is that of Tab Order. If a tagged PDF document has links or form fields, the Tab Order, the order in which those links or form fields are accessed, must b correct.

Tab Order is flagged during a PDF/UA Accessibility Check,  a WCAG 2.0 Accessibility Check or a Section 508 Accessibility Check in CommonLook Global Access. This can be repaired in CommonLook Global Access by double clicking on Tab Order and correcting the Tab Order in the dialog.

Initial View

While not flagged during an Acrobat Accessibility Full Check, this is part of the ISO PDF/UA specifications. It also makes it easier for people using adaptive technology to keep track of which document they are in when multiple documents are open.

There is a way to set the initial view of the document so that in the Title Bar, the name of the document is displayed (and read by screen readers and Text-to-Speech tools) instead of the filename which might not make sense.

This item is flagged when doing a PDF/UA Accessibility Check or a WCAG 2.0 Accessibility Check in CommonLook Global Access and can be repaired in CommonLook Global Access by double clicking the failed item and choosing to correct it.


This is an item not flagged in an Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Full Check, but equally important to have in place.

The absence of Bookmarks is flagged by CommonLook Global Access during a PDF/UA Accessibility Check  or a WCAG 2.0 Accessibility Check and can be repaired in CommonLook Global Access. Double click the Bookmarks item in the PDF/UA report and choose to regenerate Bookmarks based on headings. Check the check box to apply to all similar elements and then click Finish.

Bookmarks should mirror the headings in the tagged PDF. Bookmarks let people quickly locate content in the PDF document.




Accessing Higher Ground Recap

Last month, the Accessing Higher Ground (AHG) Conference took place at the Westminster Hotel in Westminster, Colorado from November 16-20. The annual Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference, hosted by the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), has become a staple for institutions of Higher Education, as well as businesses and individuals involved with accessibility in the academic or corporate environment.

This year’s event was well-attended by faculty, administrators, students, HR personnel, course designers, programmers, and assistive technologists, offering conference-goers five days of seminars, presentations, special sessions, and opportunities to learn about an array of subject matter topical to the accessibility field.  Exhibitors provided attendees a versatile showcase of the very latest in assistive technology tools, software, and equipment. For those who were unable to attend in person, an option to attend a Virtual Conference was also provided.

As always, AHG provided accessibility stakeholders a coveted opportunity to learn, connect, and engage with one another in a unique environment, helping to foster open channels of communication between allies in Higher Ed accessibility across the nation and the globe. While one long-time conference attendee described this year’s experience as “spectacular,” you be the judge – AHG is asking for your evaluation of the 2015 event here.

CommonLook to Connect With Healthcare IT Pros at HIMSS 16HIMSS is a global, cause-based, not-for-profit organization focused on better health through information technology (IT). HIMSS leads efforts to optimize health engagements and care outcomes using information technology

The HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition is the industry’s largest health IT educational program and exhibition center. HIMSS16 will take place February 29 – March 4, 2016 in Las Vegas. Learn more.

If you will be in attendance at this year’s conference and would like to schedule a free consultation with CommonLookregarding your electronic document accessibility needs, please email

We look forward to seeing you there!


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