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PDF Rescue: Practical Tips for Busy Professionals

taught by: Marc Thorson

co-presented by: Stacy Carston Sporie & Rob Kaul

Session Summary:

Learn how to use Adobe Acrobat Pro to make PDF documents accessible. The Nelnet Accessibility Team will draw on their experience to teach you the essentials of how to evaluate and remediate PDFs and share strategies for dealing with common issues.

Description:

“Someone handed me a PDF and said, ‘Make it accessible.’ What do I do?”

The goal of this course is to teach you how to apply your knowledge of digital accessibility to remediate PDF documents using Adobe Acrobat Pro. As members of the accessibility team at Nelnet, a diverse financial services company, Marc, Stacy, and Rob have considerable experience evaluating and remediating PDF documents. From simple one-page factsheets to multi-page fillable forms, we have tackled a variety of electronic documents (sometimes painstakingly!) and look forward to sharing the lessons we have learned with you. We will focus on what we consider to be the most essential aspects of PDF accessibility, so using what you learn will be most impactful.

Topics covered will include: a brief overview of the tools provided by Acrobat Pro, including the accessibility checker and reading order tool; the differences between the content, order, and tag panels; how to tag elements so that semantic information is conveyed to assistive technology, including headings, links, tables, and forms; which document properties are important for an accessible document; and strategies to deal with common issues. Along the way, we will also share our tips for effectively using Acrobat Pro’s accessibility features and a couple tricks to optimize file size.

One area that we will not cover is how to use source programs such as Microsoft Word or Adobe InDesign to produce a more accessible PDF upfront. While this is certainly best practice, you will still need to use Acrobat Pro to evaluate and touch up the resulting document, and this course is focused on the skills needed to do so.

Someone who is comfortable with the fundamentals of digital accessibility and is new to PDF remediation will get the most out of this course. Knowledge of HTML and semantic markup will help, as many PDF tags are similar, but is not required.

Practical Skills:

  • What to look for when evaluating the accessibility of a PDF
  • How to use the features of Acrobat Pro to make a PDF accessible
  • Common pitfalls to watch out for in Acrobat Pro