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Accessibility of tables - does it have to take hours?

New Here ,
Jun 28, 2021 Jun 28, 2021

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Hi everyone,

I have tons of documents containing many long tables each which I need to make accessible. The tables itself are not complex - just long.They contain both column and row headers. I use the table editor form the reading order touch up tool.

I can mark all the cells of a column to link all of them at once to one column header cell. But if I select a row afterwards where the contained cells do have different column headers, I cannot link them all at once to a row header cell which is incredibly inconvenient. At the moment, I click on each single cell to link it to a row header cell.

Is there any possibility to quickly link both columns and rows to headings? Otherwise it will take years of really annoying work to make all of the documents accessible...

Shortcuts, plugins (best not incredibly expensive ones...), other ways of doing it, macros, any suggestions would be helpful.

Thank you!

Janina

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Edit and convert PDFs, How to, Standards and accessibility

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 28, 2021 Jun 28, 2021

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Unfortunately (and as you've discovered), The Table Editor in Acrobat and the table editing tools overall, are powerful in Acrobat but also very limited. If you have a lot of these, yes you'll spend a lot of time remediating these tables. You may want to take a look at axesPDF (or even axesWord if you're exporting from Word), as it can make the process much faster. 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 28, 2021 Jun 28, 2021

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Well, as long as name brands are being promoted in this public forum, I'll add a couple more that can help you, in addition to Chad's company's Axes programs. All of them are paid programs, anywhere from $500 - thousands per license, except where noted.

 

CommonLook has several tools https://commonlook.com/:

  • CommonLook Word plug-in allows you to control and export more compliant PDFs.
  • CommonLook PDF is a major tool for remediating and validating PDFs. Very good with tables and TOCs.
  • CommonLook Validator is a free program that examines PDFs for compliance, but doesn't correct them.

You can read an objective review of the programs at https://webaim.org/resources/commonlook/

 

And for those exporting from InDesign, Aoxio's Made To Tag makes more compliant PDFs from InDesign layout files. It's also built into QuarkXpress, another desktop publishing program. https://www.axaio.com/doku.php/en:products:madetotag

 

And then there are the preflighting tools in Acrobat Pro itself. No extra cost. It corrects many major flaws in PDFs, but not the ones you want for tables.

 

--Bevi (who doesn't have any financial interest in any of the above programs.

 

Bevi Chagnon | Designer & Technologist for Accessible InDesign + PDFs |
Books & Classes | PubCom

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 28, 2021 Jun 28, 2021

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One more service to suggest, especially since you say you're doing a lot of tables.

Look at the SAAS (software as a service) programs from Equidox https://equidox.co/pdf-remediation-software-pdf-to-html/

 

Equidox is a very reputable company with a long history in the accessibility field (since 2010, IIRC). It's highly respected in the industry with a proven track record.

 

Disclaimer: I have no relationship with Equidox, no financial incentive to recommend it to you.

 

Bevi Chagnon | Designer & Technologist for Accessible InDesign + PDFs |
Books & Classes | PubCom

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 28, 2021 Jun 28, 2021

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@Janina5FAF, might be able to save you some work.

For simple tables (those with regular TH column headers and row headers), you do not need to use Header IDs and associate them with <TD> data cells.

 

The <TH> tags themselves provide sufficient accessibility. See Sec. 5.4 in the PDF Syntax Guide (free download from the PDF Association, https://www.pdfa.org/resource/tagged-pdf-best-practice-guide-syntax/

 

The only time when Header IDs and <TD> associations are required is when you have a complex table:

  • Multi-row ccolumn header
  • Multi-column row header
  • Sub-headers within the table

 

For those tables where this must be done, you can automatically generate the header IDs within Acrobat:

  1. Launch Table Editor.
  2. Right click on any cell and select Autogenerate Header Cells IDs.

 

But there's no built-in help to associate the <TD> data cells to their respective Header cells via the IDs.

 

You can suggest these features be added by going to www.Acrobat.UserVoice.com, the website where customers like us submit feature requests and report bugs. Here are two you might want to vote for:

 

If you want these features, we must vote them up! Adobe looks at the number of votes to  help decide what goes on their to-do list.

 

So Vote for Accessibility Features!

 

.

Bevi Chagnon | Designer & Technologist for Accessible InDesign + PDFs |
Books & Classes | PubCom

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Explorer ,
Jul 01, 2021 Jul 01, 2021

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I dreamt that Acrobat had a scripting interface, like Photoshop and Indesign. Element tagging and read order were included in the object model.

The community could make tools to do this kind of thing inside Acrobat, instead of moving content into expensive third-party apps.

 

Then I woke up.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 01, 2021 Jul 01, 2021

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I remember well standing in front of classrooms full of government folks, who were there to learn the foundations of accessibility in Acrobat.  They were generally overjoyed that the table editor (well hidden from the untrained) was there, and then the frowns, once they realized how many weeks/months/days they would likely spend slaving over the tool.

I felt the pain of those tasked with remediating older files.

Dave

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New Here ,
Jun 30, 2021 Jun 30, 2021

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Thanks a lot for the comments, this helped me a lot. Although I had axesPDF and Commonlook in mind, I hoped that there is a cheaper program or a build-in function available for Acrobat Pro. Let's hope that Adobe starts to take accessibility serious...

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 30, 2021 Jun 30, 2021

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Glad to help! Although we're all clamoring for more accessibility features in Acrobat and InDesign, the gears of development turn extremely slowly. I wouldn't hold your breath for any new features anytime soon. That was my reasoning for recommending a 3rd party product. I don't care which product it is, they can make the process a lot faster and easier.

 

Chad Chelius (who's only reason for responding to these posts is to help other people)

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