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Making Your Existing PDFs Accessible

Table of Contents

Why PDF Accessibility Matters for Special Districts

Providing accessible public documents isn't just a legal requirement (under the Americans with Disabilities Act); it's a core part of serving your entire community. Here's how accessible PDFs benefit your special district:

  • Inclusivity: Ensure everyone, regardless of disability, can access information about district services, meetings, and finances.
  • Transparency: Build trust with your constituents by making documents easy to read for everyone.
  • Compliance: Reduce the risk of legal complaints and demonstrate a commitment to equal access.
  • Improved User Experience: Accessible documents are often easier for all users to navigate, not just those with disabilities.
  • Reputation: Position your special district as a leader in community engagement and inclusivity.

Do you need to remediate your document?

Here is a quick checklist to decide if you need to make your document accessible:

  • Was it created after July 1, 2024? - Definitely remediate
  • Is it a required document pertaining to this year? - Time to remediate
  • Is it considered an archived document? - No need to remediate, just archive the file instead

Prioritizing Document Remediation

Start by making your most important and frequently accessed documents accessible. Here's a suggested order:

  1. Upcoming Meeting Agendas: Ensure community members can participate fully in district decision-making.
  2. Most Recent Meeting Minutes: Provide a record of district actions that everyone can understand.
  3. Financial Documents (Budgets, Audits): Transparency in finances is key to public trust.
  4. Public Notices and Announcements: Reach the widest possible audience with important information.
  5. Frequently Requested Forms: Make it easy for everyone to interact with your district.

Remediation Options:

  • Automated Remediation: Our platform offers a convenient built-in tool to send PDFs for remediation at a flat rate per page.
  • Do It Yourself (DIY): Tools like CommonLook PDF or Adobe Acrobat empower you to remediate documents in-house.

Automated Remediation Through Streamline

To make things convenient, Streamline has partnered with Allyant to offer automated PDF remediation directly on our platform at a flat rate per page. When you request automated remediation, Allyant will fix all errors and warnings for you and provide a certificate of remediation for the document.

Submitting a PDF for Remediation

Requesting a document to be remediated is easy! After selecting the inaccessible PDF, click the button to request remediation and it will be sent off and remediated in 7-10 business days. When the accessible version is ready, it will automatically replace the old version on your site!

Manually Remediating PDFs

Remediating PDFs: Adobe Acrobat vs. CommonLook PDF

While Adobe Acrobat has some accessibility features, it does not test your document against the full suit of WCAG requirements. For a detailed comparison of the accessibility features in Adobe Acrobat and CommonLook PDF, see this chart: https://commonlook.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/adobe-acrobat-professional-vs-commonlook-pdf_final-remediated.pdf

Common PDF Remediation Tasks

Making PDFs accessible typically involves these key steps:

  • Tagging: Adding tags to define the structure of the document (headings, paragraphs, lists, tables) so assistive technology can interpret it.
  • Reading Order: Ensuring the content flows in a logical order for screen readers.
  • Alternative Text for Images: Providing text descriptions of images so people who cannot see them understand their content.
  • Hyperlinks: Making sure links have descriptive text (not just "click here").
  • Tables: Adding proper table headers and data structure.
  • Forms: Ensuring forms are interactive and usable with assistive technology.
  • Color Contrast: Checking that text and background colors have sufficient contrast for people with low vision.

Other Resources for Remediation

Streamline does not offer direct tips on how to remediate your documents, but we have compiled a few helpful resources from around the web if you are looking to do it yourself:

  • The Accessibility Guy: This is a great YouTube channel with a focus on not only how to remediate your documents, but also create accessible documents going forward. He has two videos going into detail on creating accessible agendas that utilize Streamline to verify!
  • Allyant Self-Paced Training: This course provides in-depth tutorials on Allyant's CommonLook PDF software as well as their CommonLook Office software. The course not only teaches you how to utilize the tools effectively but also emphasizes the importance of ensuring that all actions are carried out in an accessible manner.

Replacing an Inaccessible PDF

Once you have manually remediated your document, you can replace the existing file on your site! This will ensure that the new accessible version replaces the existing document on all pages where the original document is currently located. It also rescans your document to ensure that all errors have been corrected!

To replace the document, find it on your list of inaccessible documents and use the replace PDF button. From here, select the new version from your computer and upload it as a replacement.

Replace PDF

 

Need Assistance?

Watch this webinar covering our ADA Dashboard which includes using our PDF scanning and remediation tools. Contact us today and our support team will be happy to help clear up any remaining questions you may have!