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Disabled users struggle to read PDFs

Over half of PDFs are inaccessible to the majority of disabled users who took part in a recent survey of PDF accessibility by Karlen Communications.
The study of users in English speaking countries found more than a third of respondents said the forms they had to fill out were scanned but had not been made accessible.
In addition, some 40 per cent said that the majority of the forms they dealt with had fields that were not tagged properly with instructions and labels. More than 50% said only one in ten PDFs were correctly formatted.
Screen readers were the commonest technology used to access PDFs, but those surveyed also relied on voice recognition, screen magnification, text-to-speech and touch screen software. The majority of the relatively small survey accessed PDFs in their work.
Several users said PDFs worked fine if they were properly structured and labelled. Others were less enthusiastic.
“To be brutally honest I would be very happy if the PDF file became a format of the past. However, if we are stuck with them they need to be created properly,” said one.
“Tabbing needs to work, controls need to be accessible (check boxes, buttons etc.), we need to be allowed to save the file locally, we need to be able to navigate around the file - to the first field, last field, from section to section - without losing screen reader focus.”
More could be done to encourage designers to make their PDFs accessible.
“If designers’ experiences with the tools that they use to make accessible forms were delightful, intuitive, integrated and not frustrating, I am sure there would be many more accessible, fillable PDF forms around,” one PDF user commented..
For the full report go to http://bit.ly/2uohHNW.

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