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ISO Launches a New Standard for Accessible PDFs

The International Standards Organisation launched ISO Standard 14289-1 on the 7th August 2012. The standard is entitled Document management applications -- Electronic document file format enhancement for accessibility -- Part 1: Use of ISO 32000-1 (PDF/UA-1).

The primary purpose of ISO 14289 (known as PDF/UA) is to define how to represent electronic documents in the Portable Document Format (PDF) format in a manner that allows the file to be accessible. This is accomplished by identifying the set of PDF components that may be used and restrictions on the form of their use.

PDF/UA is intended as a companion standard, to be used in conjunction with ISO 32000, ISO 19005, ISO 15930 and other standards as may apply for the purpose of achieving accessibility or as mandated by this International Standard. 

It is important to note that ISO3200 is the main PDF standard which already defines the format’s accessibility features. What PDF/UA does is to clarify and demonstrate how those features should be used, for both producing and consuming PDF documents. Also, any features which are allowed in ISO 32000 but which inhibit accessibility are prohibited in PDF/UA.

Finally, PDF/UA is a technical standard providing detailed code-level requirements for PDF software developers. It does not contain best practices or implementation guidance beyond the normative and informative text. An implementation guide, a mapping to WCAG 2.0 and other supporting materials are under development at this time. For further information and to obtain a copy of the standards click here.