Monday, February 23, 2015

February 26 Meeting: Overview of IT Accessibility Issues & Our UW Journey

Topic: Overview of IT Accessibility Issues & Our UW Journey
Speaker: Sheryl Burgstahler, Director, UW-IT Accessible Technology Services
Date: Thursday, February 26, 2015
Time 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Location: Allen Auditorium

Sheryl will guide us through the current state of IT accessibility issues in higher education and describe the steps being taken at the UW to address those issues. Topics with include defining what "accessible" means, lessons learned from legal cases, defining our IT accessibility goals, and work currently underway to take us toward those goals.

AccessibleWeb@U meetings are held on the fourth Thursday of each month in Allen Auditorium. You can subscribe to (or unsubscribe from) the AccessibleWeb@U mailing list at Notes from past AccessibleWeb@U meetings are available on our funky AccessWebU blog at

The Allen Auditorium is located in the part of the Allen Library directly attached to Suzzallo Library, on the northeast corner of the room with the help desk and the crows.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Creating Accessible PDFs With Adobe InDesign

AccessibleWeb - Creating Accessible PDFs With Adobe InDesign
January 22, 2015, Rick Ells
  • Making Them Right to Begin With
    • Making a PDF accessible after it has been created is difficult, sometimes impossible
    • Use the capabilities of your publishing program to enable it to generate accessible PDFs
  • What Assistive Technology Needs
    • Language
    • Structure
    • Flow
    • Tagged Text
    • Headers
    • Alt text for graphics
  • The InDesign-to-Accessible-PDF Workflow
    • In InDesign
      • Define paragraph styles, including headers
      • Paragraph Styles mapped to Export Tags
      • Thread text into a flow
      • Anchor images in text flow
      • Give images alt text
      • Create any bookmarks, table of contents, hyperlinks, or cross-references
      • Define content order in Articles panel
      • Add file metadata
    • In Adobe Acrobat Pro
      • Assign language
      • Set tab order to Use Document Structure
      • Run Accessibility Check and do further tweaks as needed
    • The advantage of this workflow is that you are setting up structure, order and alt texts in InDesign, and then simply using that document structure, rather than trying to define that structure in Adobe Acrobat. From personal experience I can say that doing all that in Acrobat is very difficult.
  • Why InDesign Generated PDFs Are Often Not Very Accessible
    • InDesign is essentially a graphical layout engine with lots of additional abilities. It is easy to create blocks of text and place graphics, move them around, and create a reasonably good looking layout without thinking about styles, text flow, alt texts or content order. The temptation is to just do the layout, generate the PDF, and go on to the text project.
    • The steps to improve accessibility of PDFs are just good professional practice for an InDesign user. Defining styles, and applying them as text is entered, ensures consistent presentation of text. Threading text into flows makes it simpler to adjust how text is presented as various layouts are considered.
    • The hardcopy orientation of InDesign and its very flexibility tempt the designer into layouts that will be difficult to make intelligible with assistive technology. For example, a document layout that has independent text flows breaking across multiple pages is going to be hard to navigate and follow for a person using a voice browser.
  • Setup Paragraph Styles
    • Type -> Paragraph Styles brings up the window for defining paragraph styles and group of styles
    • Clicking on each paragraph style will bring up the Paragraph Style Options, with has menus for setting fonts, spacing, indents, and much more for the style
    • You can create a paragraph style group by clicking on the little folder icon on the bottom margin of the window. Then you create your styles into that group. Typically, you would define all the styles you expect to use in a project in a group.
    • At least you should define the following styles: Paragraph, Header 1, Header 2, and Header 3
  • Set Export Tagging for Each Paragraph Style
    • For each style, go to Paragraph Style Options -> Export Tagging
    • Set export tagging for both PDF by selecting the appropriate tag from the drop down list. It would be a good idea to also select the appropriate tag for export to EPUB and HTML at the same time.
  • Thread Text Blocks Into a Flow
    • Connect the out port from each text block to the in port of the following text block
    • Defining the flow helps define the linear structure of the text in the document
  • Anchor Graphics in the Text Flow
    • The simplest way to do this to simply drag and drop the graphic into the appropriate location in the text flow
  • Give Each Graphic Alt Text
    • Select the graphic, go to Object -> Object Export Options
    • If the graphic is purely decorative and contains no meaningful content, leave the text field blank for each of the types of alternative text (Alt Text, Tagged PDF, and EPUB and HTML)
    • If the graphic has meaning, enter the appropriate text in the alternative text field for each type of export.
  • Export the Document to a PDF File
    • File -> Export... , then select Save As Type to "Adobe PDF (Interactive)"
    • Be sure the "Use Structure for Tab Order" option is checked in the Export to Interactive PDF window.
  • Final Steps in Adobe Acrobat Pro
    • Set the document language by going to File -> Properties -> Advanced -> Reading Options
    • Review and tweak the reading order with the TouchUp Reading Order tool at View -> Tools -> Accessibility -> Accessibility right column menu
  • Resources
    • Penn State: InDesign Accessibility -
    • Adobe: InDesign Accessibility -