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Encouraged Fixes for PDF Files

ASPA-DCD classifies accessibility errors into three categories as shown below:

  • Required Fixes (RFs): violations that must be corrected and have direct mappings to either Section 508 or HHS accessibility guidelines.
  • Strongly Encouraged Fixes (SEFs): issues that are violations of WCAG 2.0 and will be elevated to Required Fixes once the 508 Refresh goes into effect; they should be proactively fixed now.
  • Encouraged Fixes (EFs): issues that should be corrected in order to meet best-practice accessibility standards but are not required for conformance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act or HHS accessibility guidelines.

Should you have questions or recommendations for revisions to the below list, please contact ASPA-DCD at http://wcdapps.hhs.gov/AccessibilityAssistance/. We welcome any and all feedback about these common-issues lists.
 

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Issue Title Issue Description Remediation Suggestion Testing Overview List of Tools
A Complex Image does not Have a Long Description A complex image has alt text > 120 (or so) characters. Add complete description of image, or link to a description at the end of the document or on the web.  For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect the document for complex images that would require a lengthy description. See if there is one provided (other than in the alt text). No tools used.
Verbose or Redundant Alternative Text is Present Alternative text repeats adjacent text or  contains extraneous wording such as “image of...”, “this image shows...”, etc. Revise alternative text to eliminate extraneous wording. For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect the alt text of all figures to see if any unnecessary text is present. No tools used.
Background Content is Tagged Empty background content has been tagged and appears in the tag structure. Mark all blank content as artifacts. For further assistance see this link For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Open the tag structure and expand all items. Go line by line to see if there is any blank content present. Adobe Touchup Reading Order
Headings Contain Too Much Information  Headings are too verbose and need to be reworded.  A Heading should be a short, descriptive title of a section or category. For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect the document for long Headings and see if they can be shortened. No tools used.
Repeated Headers are not Tagged as Background A data table spans more than one page and the repeated header row on each page is tagged instead of being marked as background. Tag all repeated headers as background and remove TR tags from tag tree. For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect the document for tables that span pages. Open the tag tree to see if the repeated header is tagged. No tools used.
A Complex Table is Reformatable into a Series of Simple Tables There is a complex data table (one with multiple column or row headers) on the page. Even when properly coded, complex tables can be difficult for Assistive Technology users to understand. In most cases, complex tables can be broken up into a series of simple tables. Modify the complex data table into a series of simple data tables.
 
For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect the document to see if any complex tables exist that could be reformatted into a series of simple tables. No tools used.
A Table Title is Contained in the Table Body The title of the table is contained in the body of the table, causing the  table to be considered complex. Data table bodies should only contain the header cells and the subsequent data cells. Remove the title of the table from the body and place it in a caption tag. For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect the tag structure of data tables that have titles above to see if the title is within the table tag. No tools used.
Navigational Direction Given Using ‘Click’ or Similar In instructional documents, only mouse device instructions such as click or hover are given. Use device independent navigation such as select, navigate, and activate. For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. For documents giving on screen direction, see if there are any words exclusive to the use of a mouse. No tools used.
PDFs of Power Points  do not Have Unique and Meaningful Slide Titles.  Page (slide) titles are missing or are something generic such as "slide 1", etc. Provide meaningful titles for all slides. For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. If the PDF was created from a PPT, inspect the 'Title' of each slide/page. No tools used.
Signatures are Present The document contains an actual signature. Replace signature with the S-signature to avoid identity theft. For further assistance see this link For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect the document for actual signatures. No tools used.
Empty Tags are Present The document contains at least one tag that is empty (has no content). Certain empty tags, such as figures, will cause a problem in the Adobe accessibility checker and give the perception of a noncompliant PDF. Remove all empty tags from the document. For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Expand all items in the tag tree and inspect for any empty tags. No tools used.

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Content created by Digital Communications Division (DCD)
Content last reviewed on September 1, 2015