Create Multiple Accessible PDF Documents

 In Articles, Compliance, PDF Accessibility

create multiple accessible pdf documents

What if you have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of PDFs to fix?

Over the last few years, a flurry of lawsuits and demand letters have been sent to government agencies, corporations and non-profit groups warning them about their inaccessible website or digital documents. While some organizations have taken the steps to work on their website and make it more compatible, many have still ignored the inaccessible documents on their sites.

Even with compliance regulations in place for years, many PDF documents on websites are not tagged and are not accessible to screen readers. Website documents are required to be accessible in the same way that your standard website HTML code needs to be. The truth is that this “hidden” liability is a growing problem and many organizations are at risk.

Does your website have hundreds or even thousands of PDF documents? Realistically, you are not going to be able to solve the problem immediately. You need a process to tackle these projects correctly.

How do you meet web content accessibility guidelines?

The following four steps can help you achieve and maintain compliance:

  1. Assess the problem.
  2. Remediate key documents.
  3. Remediate or remove older documents.
  4. Monitor for continued compliance.

1.     Assess the Problem

The first thing you need to do is determine the extent of the problem. To check accessibility, you can use a third party accessibility tool like CommonLook Validator or PAC 3. If you have a large number of files published by multiple authors that need to be properly tagged for accessibility, it can become quite an undertaking to download and audit documents. Fortunately, there is a solution to scan a website, make an inventory of all the PDF files and determine the accessibility of the discovered documents.

CommonLook Clarity is a cloud-based tool that can be easily used to scan a website and create accessibility reports that can be used to:

  • Identify the project scope
  • Determine next steps
  • Monitor compliance throughout the process

commonlook clarity - get free web accessibility checkup


2.     Remediate Key Documents

Remediating hundreds or thousands of documents can be daunting, and many times is not realistic due to budget or time constraints. Our recommendations based on dealing with customers facing this situation over the last 19 years is to first identify the key documents that are important for your customers. This means all the documents that are used to do business with your customers. For government agencies, this could be your financial reporting, budgets and forms for requesting services.

Once you have inventoried and built a list of the important documents, you can get these documents quickly remediated and guaranteed 100% compliant with a remediation solution like CommonLook Service. Our remediation team will professionally remediate your documents and ensure 100% guaranteed compliance with Section 508, WCAG 2.0 AA, HHS and/or PDF/UA accessibility requirements. We will also provide you with our CommonLook report that addresses every checkpoint within your chosen standard. The remediated files can then be uploaded to your website with the confidence that the files are fully accessible.

3.     Remediate or Remove Older Documents

The remaining digital documents need to be reviewed and evaluated to see if they should be removed. Some organizations are required to keep certain documents such as financial reporting for long periods of time, so these are documents that if they remain on your website, will need to be remediated for accessibility. Once you have inventoried your documents and determined which ones can be safely removed from your website and determined what needs to remain, you can then determine the best process for remediating the remaining documents. CommonLook recommends a hybrid approach of using CommonLook Services for critical documents that need to be done quickly and using a combination of CommonLook PDF and CommonLook Training to develop the capability to remediate documents using your internal resources.

4.     Monitor for Continued Compliance

Over a period of time, the combination of remediation services and internal remediation of your documents will result a much more accessible website. To ensure that your website does not have files uploaded to it that are not accessible, you should do a regular scan of the website to ensure the files are accessible. CommonLook Clarity can be used to monitor and alert to any compliance issues.

PDF Accessibility: Final Recommendations

The process we outlined above has been used successfully by numerous organizations to achieve compliance for website documents.

Before creating any additional documents, have an internal plan for addressing accessibility in the authoring process. This will reduce the need for future remediation, or at least make the remediation process easier.

Finally, we recommend you have an accessibility policy on your website.

If you have any questions on document assessment, remediation or compliance, please contact one of our accessibility professionals today.

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