Web friendly PDFs

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A small effort that makes a big difference for somebody else.

2021.06.16 | Camilla Dissing

The focus on web accessibility has intensified since the Danish Act on web accessibility came into force in June 2018. Roughly stated, the act prescribes that webpages produced after 23rd of September 2019 must be made as accessible as possible to people with different forms of physical and mental disabilities.

Pdf-files on websites constitute a particular challenge for people who use a screen reader. For example can a missing file name or improper tagging of headers make it difficult for the disabled to get an overview of the content in the document.

In Pure, we have more than 20.000 registrations, where the publication is attached as a file. Most of these files are pdf-files and are displayed on the personal AU websites. There is a potential risk that these files reduce the accessibility of the personal AU homepage where they appear.

This does not mean that you should refrain from uploading pdf-files to Pure. Quite the opposite. Parallel publishing of publications such as accepted manuscripts through Pure is an important part of AU's Open Access strategy. We just ask that you consider the file's accessibility before you do so.

There are several tools that you can use to produce and check document files for accessibility. For example, Microsoft has integrated a feature in Word that can check the document while you are working, or you can use the feature after you have finished preparing your document. Also keep in mind that the way in which you create the pdf-file from Word or another file type impacts the end-user accessibility.

If you receive a pdf-file from another person, you can use Adobe Acrobat Pro to examine the file for accessibility. AU IT user Experiences has prepared a best practice for pdf-files on Web pages.