How to Create Accessible PDFs for Large-Scale Publishing Projects

Graphical picture of How to Create Accessible PDFs for Large-Scale Publishing Projects

Key Takeaways

  1. PDF Accessibility is essential to ensure that all readers, including those with visual or mobility impairments, can access information.
  2. A well-designed table of contents can significantly enhance the reading experience for all users, but it’s essential for individuals with visual impairments.
  3. Reflowable content allows readers to adjust the font size, style, and color to suit their needs, making it especially helpful for people with low vision or dyslexia.
  4. Headings can signal the beginning of a new section, and following a proper hierarchy for headings makes navigating the content easier for assistive technologies like screen readers.
  5. Adding alt text to images is essential to make them accessible for visually impaired users.
  6. To ensure that your EPUB document is accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities, use MathML to mark up mathematical equations.
  7. It’s important to ensure that the color contrast in your PDFs meets accessibility guidelines, with a minimum ratio contrast of 4.5:1 recommended.

Introduction

PDF Accessibility is essential for ensuring that all readers, including those with visual or mobility impairments, can access information in today’s digital age. Assistive technologies like screen readers, Braille displays, and screen magnification software have easily enabled everyone to navigate through documents like technical manuals and marketing brochures.

To ensure that your PDFs are accessible to all readers, it’s essential to prioritize PDF Accessibility in their creation. This not only benefits people with disabilities but also provides a flexible user experience for everyone. This article will give helpful tips for creating accessible PDFs for Electronic Publication (EPUB) projects, allowing you to reach the widest audience possible and ensuring that your content is inclusive and accessible to all.

Table of Contents

A well-designed table of contents can significantly enhance the reading experience for all users, but it’s essential for individuals with visual impairments. When creating a table of contents, include all titles or descriptions of first-level headings, subheadings, and corresponding page numbers. Proper hierarchy and indentation make the table of contents easier to follow and ensure readers can quickly navigate the document.

Use Proper Layout and Structure

When creating an accessible PDF for large-scale publishing projects, it’s important to consider fixed and reflowable content. Reflowable content allows readers to adjust the font size, style, and color to suit their needs, making it especially helpful for people with low vision or dyslexia and ensuring the best possible reading experience. However, when using a fixed layout, EPUBs should strive to improve the reading experience for screen readers by placing phrases and sentences within span tags to improve readability.
Using the correct markup with headings enables screen readers to quickly navigate information and find chapters, sections, and other elements. Additional features like notes, indexes, and glossaries can also enhance the reading experience for non-traditional readers. Ensuring that the proper structure is in place makes the content more accessible to everyone, regardless of their disability.

Make Content Readable

While sophisticated vocabulary may make your EPUB document stand out, it can be challenging for people with cognitive disabilities like dyslexia to concentrate while reading it. To ensure that all readers quickly understand your content, it’s best to break up long paragraphs into smaller ones.
Headings can signal the beginning of a new section, and following a proper hierarchy for headings makes navigating the content easier for assistive technologies like screen readers. Including a table of contents in your document allows readers to navigate the content from one topic to another easily.
The text should follow a logical or natural reading order, be readable with high contrast and appropriate font size, and differentiate secondary material such as footnotes, references, figures, and other auxiliary content to make the content easy to read and understand.

Media Accessibility

For visually impaired users, adding alt text to images is essential to make them accessible. Use complete markup, including table headers and scope attributes, when using text and tabular data. In cases where images of tables cannot be avoided, provide a link to a separate page containing the properly marked-up tabular data.
For videos, closed-captioning should be enabled by default, and controls such as pause, play, forward, reverse, and volume should be accessible. Additionally, providing transcripts for audio or a link to additional information for people with hearing disabilities can further enhance the accessibility of your EPUB document.

Use MathML for Equations

To ensure that your EPUB document is accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities, use MathML to mark up mathematical equations. MathML makes it possible for equations to be read by screen readers and other assistive technologies, ensuring that all readers can access the content.

Color Contrast Accessibility

It’s important to ensure that the color contrast in your PDFs meets accessibility guidelines. A minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 is recommended between the foreground color (e.g., text, links) and the background color. This ratio ensures that people with visual impairments can easily read the content.

Add Bookmarks and Hyperlinks

Adding bookmarks and hyperlinks to your EPUB documents can make them more accessible and easier to navigate. Bookmarks allow readers to quickly jump to different document sections, while hyperlinks provide additional information and resources. Ensure all links are descriptive and use clear, straightforward language for maximum accessibility.

Footnotes and Endnotes, "Return to Text" Links

Every eBook should have an internal hyperlink that allows the reader to jump to the notes section. Including a “return to text” hyperlink is essential if your document contains footnotes or endnotes, making it easy for users to navigate the paper. This ensures that all readers, including those with disabilities, can fully access the content.

Adding Standard Accessibility to Your EPUB

After authoring your content, it’s crucial to add accessibility features to ensure your EPUB is accessible to everyone. Here are some essential accessibility features you should include:
  1. Metadata: Include metadata at the beginning of the file to indicate that your publication is accessible and contains the following accessibility features:
    • The title of the publication
    • The language used and the date when your content was last modified
    • The author of the EPUB
    • The publishing organization of the EPUB and the date of creation
  2. Alt-text Descriptions: When including images in your document, make sure to add alt-text descriptions that accurately describe the image. Avoid embedding text in images as it makes it difficult for the screen reader to read the content aloud. You can prepare the alt text descriptions using a spreadsheet and paste them into the <“alt=”> tag inside each image file in the HTML of your content.
  3. Navigation: Ensure that users can easily navigate your content by editing the OPF (Packaging document) manifest and spine. The manifest lists all files within the ePub directory, and the spine identifies the reading order of all manifest contents.
  4. Semantic HTML Markup: Add semantic HTML markup to the content to identify discrete text sections. Use <section> code for chapters and <aside> code for sidebars.
  5. Font Embedding: Embed various fonts in a single EPUB file so that users with different needs can select a font that meets their requirements.
By including these accessibility features, you can make your EPUB document more accessible to everyone, regardless of their ability.

How to Create Accessible PDFs for Large-Scale Publishing Projects using PREP

PREP is an advanced AI-based PDF remediation platform that efficiently produces large volumes of accurately tagged accessible PDFs for extensive publishing projects quickly. Its 70% automated remediation process reduces turnaround time despite the document’s complexity.

Digital PDF files are frequently incompatible with online publishing requirements. Still, PREP can seamlessly transfer PDFs to multiple preferred formats like HTML, DOCX, or ePub without compromising its original form and structure. Users can access and modify content quickly and efficiently by converting PDFs to DOCX format. Therefore, PREP is the ideal solution for large-scale publishing projects requiring document digitization.

In addition, PREP’s built-in OCR mode accurately converts a large volume of low-quality scanned documents into accessible formats such as Word or ePub. It ensures quality and accuracy as SMEs review all files generated.

PREP is compliant with ADA/WCAG 2.1 AA standards, making it easier for the publishing industry to meet accessibility standards by making textbooks, ancillaries, educational material, and documents fully accessible to users.

Final Thoughts:

An EPUB file that is easily accessible enables users to have maximum flexibility in their reading experience, and publications must incorporate accessibility features that various reading applications and programs can utilize. By implementing these features, users can enjoy a seamless reading experience that caters to their needs, and publishers can ensure their content is available to everyone. Ultimately, creating an accessible EPUB file is important to ensure inclusivity and equal access to information for all readers

Transform with Affordable Document Remediation

Experience top-tier PDF remediation powered by AI, delivering unmatched quality, precision, and scalability, all at a fraction of traditional time and cost.

Editors:

Debangku Sarma

Digital Marketing Associate
Continual Engine

Vijayshree Vethantham

Senior Vice-President, Growth & Strategy
Continual Engine US LLC

Do You Need Some Help? Don't Worry, We've Got You!

"*" indicates required fields

Step 1 of 3

What is your goal?*
Skip to content