Checking/Correcting PDF Accessibility Issues on OS X
July 14, 2017 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Part of my day job is doing compliance checks for accessibility. I normally just do basic assessments of websites, but now I've got a bunch of PDFs I need to run accessibility checks on (and hopefully be able to correct any issues) and our accessibility specialist is on holidays until after the deadline for these materials. Can anyone recommend some free tools for OS X?

I have some caveats:
  1. We did not create these documents and I do not have access to the original files they were created from. Most of them are things like government forms (or simulated government forms) and not just text documents.
  2. I have the following available to me: OS X 10.9.5 (and everything that comes with it), Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac, and Adobe Acrobat Reader DC for Mac. I do not have access to our specialist's computer
  3. I don't have Acrobat Pro, and won't be getting it, nor am I authorized to spend the money to unlock any additional tools (like the accessibility tools)
  4. I don't have permission to "install" new software (i.e. anything that requires me to enter an admin password to run). I can d/l and use anything that can be run without going through an install process.
  5. I do not have access to a PC or any operating system other than OS X 10.9.5
  6. I have authorization to run these documents through an automated online-based tool if I can find one, but I do not have permission to pass them off to an actual human who has the necessary tools
I'm under a very tight deadline so a software solution would be preferred, but if there aren't any then there aren't any and I'll take whatever help I can get. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
posted by Fish Sauce to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Learn to use Voiceover in OSX (free, pre-installed). Stop using your mouse entirely. I have no idea if this will require an admin password. These checklists will help.

The only automated solution I can find is Acrobat Pro. Otherwise, if you are on a 'very tight deadline', I think they are giving you a nigh-impossible task.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 9:08 AM on July 14, 2017

Yeah, the problem with this is that the default PDF accessibility, as it exists under latest public version of Mac OS X, is awful. Adobe Acrobat of some description is almost certainly the best way to do this. Reader DC will help, but it's hard to use with VoiceOver.

Honestly, you probably want more software than you have access to. You need to be able to look at the tags that went into the PDF file, and Acrobat is the only way I know of to do this.
posted by Alensin at 9:20 AM on July 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, seconding the idea you don't have the software available to do this, so the deadlines are impossible.

Acrobat Pro's preflighting tools should catch many issues and be able to suggest fixes, and the PAC 2 tools only run under Windows (or .net, which isn't really an option on your Mac).
posted by scruss at 9:54 AM on July 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the feedback, folks. You have confirmed what I thought was the case. I'm setting up a meeting for Monday with my boss to see if I can get the department to open up the purse strings so I can get this done.
posted by Fish Sauce at 10:11 AM on July 14, 2017

You can open PDFs in Preview (built in) with Voiceover.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:13 PM on July 14, 2017

This is not a free option, but Siteimprove is a great tool for accessibility work. (Disclaimer: my company works with them, I do not work for them.) They have a powerful suite for A, AA, and AAA compliance, including PDF checks, and tons of super helpful people. It is very much not cheap but hugely helpful if you have a big accessibility check vs a look-over.
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 8:06 AM on July 15, 2017

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