PDF/UA – Universal Accessibility

What is a PDF/UA

PDF/UA, short for Portable Document Format/Universal Accessibility, is a standard that incorporates vital differences in traditional PDF files to ensure accessibility for people with disabilities. While it may seem similar at first glance, PDF/UA follows specific guidelines to make files universally accessible, allowing all users, including those with disabilities, to derive equal value from the content.

What is PDF/UA used for

PDF/UA serves the same purpose as standard PDF files but with a crucial difference – it ensures accessibility for all users. By adhering to PDF/UA guidelines, documents become accessible to people with disabilities, thanks to the inclusion of tags that assistive technologies can interpret.

These tags allow for prioritizing important information and structuring content, ensuring a seamless reading experience for those relying on assistive programs. With PDF/UA, everyone can access and comprehend the content of the file, promoting inclusivity and usability.

How to open a PDF/UA file

To open a PDF/UA file, any PDF viewer or editor that supports the PDF format can be used. These viewers and editors should provide accessible viewing options for users with disabilities.

Here's a small, but not exhaustive list of PDF/UA readers:

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Internet Browsers
  • Online PDF viewers
  • Foxit Reader
  • PDFelement, etc.

How to create a PDF/UA file

To create a PDF/UA file, you will need Adobe Acrobat Pro and a finalized PDF document. The "Make Accessible" function in Acrobat Pro helps enhance accessibility for all users. It identifies areas for improvement, such as scanned text, missing titles, or documentation.

To access this function:

  1. Open Acrobat Pro and go to "Tools."
  2. Select "Action Wizard."
  3. In the Actions List, choose "Make Accessible."
  4. Pick the files you want to enhance accessibility for.
  5. Apply the action to your selected files, and you will receive prompts to guide you in making the files accessible.

Learn more about similar file types to PDF/UA

  • PDF Subsets – 5 subsets of the PDF ISO Standard
  • PDF/A – the ISO standard for long-term archiving