Adobe Improves Support for Accessible PDF Documents on Mobile Devices
by Rob Haverty
posted on 06-27-2017
At Adobe, we look at the accessibility of PDF documents from two aspects; creation and consumption. In order to truly have an accessible experience with PDF documents they must first be created by the document author to be accessible. Once that has been accomplished both the PDF Reader and the assistive technology must support the PDF/UA standard to correctly read out the accessible PDF.
In this blog, I am going to focus on the consumption experience, specifically on mobile devices. The most current releases for Acrobat Reader for both iOS and Android have support for correctly tagged PDF documents for reading basic content such as paragraphs, headings, links, and alternative text for images.
Although the text within lists and tables will be read, the structural information such as list item or table cell is not currently fully supported and may not be accurately conveyed via a screen reader. We are working on support for structural elements in upcoming releases.
It is important to remember, however, that the success in reading a PDF document using assistive technologies is dependent upon the document being created to be accessible in the first place. The adage “garbage in/garbage out” is very appropriate here. If you are trying to read an inaccessible PDF using an assistive technology, such as a screen reader, you may have some success but the experience will not likely be a good one.
Individuals who use TalkBack on Android devices and VoiceOver on iOS devices will be familiar with the gestures to navigate and activate functionality. The gestures below are a list of some of the gestures particularly relevant for reading accessible PDF files using the screen reader for either an iOS or Android device.
- One-finger swipe right/left reads sequentially down/up through page content
- Two-finger swipe down reads from the current position on the page and navigates to the next page.
- Two-finger swipe up reads from the top of the current page and navigates to the next page
- Three-finger swipe left/right to navigate to the next/previous page or one-finger swipe up/down on the page flipper control to go to the next/previous page.
- Select the element type (e.g., headings or links) you want to navigate by in the VoiceOver rotor control (two-finger rotate) and then use one-finger swipe down/up to navigate to the next/previous element.
- Swipe right to move to the next item on the screen
- Swipe left to move to the previous item on the screen
- Swipe right then left to move to the next page
- Swipe left then right to move to the previous page
- Swipe down then right to open the global context menu to make reading selections such as read from top (to read the entire page).
The Adobe Document Cloud team is committed to providing more innovations and an improved experience for creating and reading accessible PDFs. Accessibility updates in upcoming releases will be detailed in our continuing series of Document Cloud accessibility blogs.
The “Tips and Tricks” blog series will cover steps for creating accessible PDFs and will begin with our next Document Cloud accessibility blog.
Products: Acrobat, Document Cloud