July 1, 2019 is the deadline for all California state agencies to publicly certify their websites as compliant with WCAG 2.0 Level AA and Section 508.
Then-Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 434 into law in October, 2017, creating Government Code section 11546.7. Agencies were given until the start of California state fiscal year 2019/2020 to comply. The law strengthens previous accessibility laws and regulations, for which compliance and enforcement were inconsistent.
California’s Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) developed a AB 434 Website Accessibility Toolkit to assist other agencies in complying with the new law. DOR also offers website and document accessibility training to state employees.
Going forward, state agencies will be required to re-certify their website’s accessibility every two years.
Access for All released PAC 3, the latest version of the free PDF Accessibility Checker, in December 2017. Access for All reports the following improvements:
Overview report can be exported as a barrier-free PDF.
Optimized accessibility of the user interface.
PAC is now available in English and German. More specifically, the language automatically depends on the language set in the operating system of your computer. If this is neither German nor English, PAC will be executed in the English version.
New “Artifacts” tab in the Logical Structure dialog box for quick viewing and review of all decorative items.
Additional attributes on the Properties tab in the Logical Structure dialog such as PrintField attributes, IsMap attribute, and ListNumbering attribute.
Another checkpoint in the category Logical structure”> “Structure elements”> Tables: Assignment of header cells”.
After using PAC 3 in parallel with PAC 2 for a few weeks, as far as I have been able to tell the test functionality is identical – with the exception of the new check for assignment of header cells. PAC 3 has an improved user interface, in my opinion, and unlike PAC 2 is itself fully accessible to assistive technology users.
The ability to produce a summary test report in accessible PDF format is a very welcome new feature. The Screen Reader Preview seems slightly improved, with images displayed smaller than in PAC 2. PAC 3 also seems more stable than PAC 2 – I tested a couple of files that crashed PAC 2 but not PAC 3. I have only detected one minor glitch in PAC 3 – the metrics (e.g. number of failed Content checkpoints) in the summary report are exactly double those in PAC 2 and in the PAC 3 detailed report.
In conclusion, PAC 3 is a welcome addition to my PDF accessibility toolbox. PAC 3 – and also the older PAC 1.3 and PAC 2 – can be downloaded from Access for All (http://www.access-for-all.ch/en/pdf-lab/pdf-accessibility-checker-pac.html).
The new information and communications technology (ICT) accessibility standard will replace the badly outdated existing 508, which maps to WCAG 1.0 guidelines written in the late 1990s. The much more rigorous new standard requires conformance with WCAG 2.0, or ISO 14289 (PDF/UA) when applicable.
The final rule still requires approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) before being published in the Federal Register. OMB approval is considered a formality, but is likely to delay enactment of the new 508 by a few more weeks.
This is a historic leap forward for electronic document accessibility! Consistent application of WCAG 2.0 and PDF/UA is the way to optimize the reading experience of electronic documents for the widest possible audience.
This paper, co-authored by The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), discusses the “why” and “how” of PDF document accessibility, including applicable laws and regulations, and best practices for meeting those requirements: