PAC 3 released by Access for All

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”.

PAC 3 Screen Shot (click for full size image)


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).

US Access Board approves the 508 Refresh

In great news for accessibility, on September 14 the US Access Board announced their long-awaited approval of the 508 Refresh.

The new information and communications technology (ICT) accessibility standard will replace the badly outdated existing 508, which maps to WCAG 1.0 guidelines written in the late 1990s.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.

The New 508 is Coming!

On February 18, 2015, the United States Access Board published Proposed Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines – the long-awaited update to U.S. Federal Government’s “Section 508″ requirements for electronic document and website accessibility. The proposed new regulations are expected to be implemented in the near future.

The new 508 will require compliance with WCAG 2.0 and PDF/UA:

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.

The PDF Association provides an excellent summary of the new 508 rules in PDF/UA featured in the 2015 Section 508 Refresh.

PDF is huge in Government and Education

Duff Johnson posted a survey, 98% of .com is HTML but 38% of .gov is PDF!, showing that PDF documents are far more prevalent on public sector (.gov) and education (.edu) websites than on commercial (.com) sites.

Share of HTML and PDF file formats on the world wide web:

    • .com: HTML 98.7%; PDF 1.0%
    • .gov: HTML 46.9%; PDF 37.9%
    • .edu: HTML 44.6%; PDF 26.7%

The numbers are striking, and illustrate the tremendous importance of PDF accessibility for government and educational institutions in their service of the public.