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NVDA doesn't read some text/skips over text already tagged in Adobe Acrobat

Community Beginner ,
Dec 21, 2023 Dec 21, 2023

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Hi all,

I'm using NVDA to read through my PDF doc while it's open in Adobe Acrobat Pro, but NVDA skips some of the information that's already tagged (such as H2 or part of the H2 text or parts of content in a Paragraph tag). I'm not sure why this is. I've deleted and the text and re-typed it. I've deleted and re-added the tags, but the screen reader still doesn't read it. Please note that this document was originally created in Word and then converted to PDF, so I know that this could be causing some problems, but are there any solutions to this issue?

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General troubleshooting , Standards and accessibility

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

Community Expert , Dec 28, 2023 Dec 28, 2023
quote

I deleted and re-typed the text directly in Acrobat.

By @Mikiko34403636vnga

 

Uh-oh. I have some bad news.

 

Once a PDF has been tagged for accessibility, the content can't be edited in any way. Doing so breaks the tag tree and the little yellow container boxes that are inside the tags lose their content. It just vanishes and leaves empty containers, or merges tags together, or does other strange things to the content.

 

So one of the first laws of accessible PDFs is: Don't Edit The Content! I

...

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Community Expert ,
Dec 24, 2023 Dec 24, 2023

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What is NVDA please?

ABAMBO | Hard- and Software Engineer | Photographer

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 24, 2023 Dec 24, 2023

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It's a screen reader, like JAWS (Freedom Scientific). I'm trying to make the PDF accessible.

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Community Expert ,
Dec 24, 2023 Dec 24, 2023

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You should be careful with acronyms. Best is to include references, explanations, or links so that people not to understand the acronym still know what it is about. What does the NVDA forum say about the problem?

ABAMBO | Hard- and Software Engineer | Photographer

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 24, 2023 Dec 24, 2023

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It's not an issue with acronyms. My issue is that the screen reader called NVDA isn't reading text in my PDF doc. My problem isn't related to acronyms. NVDA the screen reader doesn't read words in sentences and sentences in paragraphs in my PDF doc, and there aren't any acronyms in these sentences. NVDA doesn't have any information about this, hence why I posted my comment here in case someone else had encourntered this problem and perhaps could offer information about it. If not, no worries. I'll figure it out or I won't.

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Community Expert ,
Dec 24, 2023 Dec 24, 2023

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quote

It's not an issue with acronyms.


By @Mikiko34403636vnga

The issue with acronyms is that readers won't be able to understand your request, as a Google search will point to a different direction: NVIDIA.

ABAMBO | Hard- and Software Engineer | Photographer

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Community Expert ,
Dec 26, 2023 Dec 26, 2023

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Hi @Mikiko34403636vnga,

I actually am an accessibility expert (member of the PDF/UA committee that writes the PDF/UA ISO standard) and I do know what NVDA is.

 

Although NVDA (and JAWS) have their problems with PDF content, NVDA is a very solid screen reader that usually doesn't miss live text content.

 

So I'm wondering if the problem is with your PDF. Some questions:

  1. Are you on Mac or Windows?
  2. What version of Acrobat are you using?
  3. What method did you use to export the PDF from Word?  See this blog for details on exporting accessible PDFs from Word: https://www.pubcom.com/blog/tutorials/ms-office/export-pdf/index.shtml

 

quote

I've deleted and the text and re-typed it. I've deleted and re-added the tags, but the screen reader still doesn't read it.

 

4. Did you delete and retype the text in Acrobat? Or did you go back to Word and re-export a new PDF?

 

|    Bevi Chagnon   |  Designer & Technologist for Accessible Documents
|    Classes & Books for Accessible InDesign, PDFs & MS Office |

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 27, 2023 Dec 27, 2023

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That's great news!

 

I have no idea how the content was exported from Word to a PDF since my colleague performed that action and that person is on holidays until next year. I use Windows but don't know what system my colleague has/uses.

 

I use an enterprise version of Adobe Acrobat Pro.

 

I deleted and re-typed the text directly in Acrobat. I have not used Word again for any reason while working on making the PDF accessible.

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Community Expert ,
Dec 28, 2023 Dec 28, 2023

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quote

I deleted and re-typed the text directly in Acrobat.

By @Mikiko34403636vnga

 

Uh-oh. I have some bad news.

 

Once a PDF has been tagged for accessibility, the content can't be edited in any way. Doing so breaks the tag tree and the little yellow container boxes that are inside the tags lose their content. It just vanishes and leaves empty containers, or merges tags together, or does other strange things to the content.

 

So one of the first laws of accessible PDFs is: Don't Edit The Content! Includes:

  • Changing the text content, such as correcting a typo, deleting text, or adding new text. Not even a tiny change like swapping a comma for a period.
  • Inserting new graphics.
  • Changing the colors of text.
  • Changing the fonts that text uses.
  • Changing the font size, line spacing, or any other text formatting

 

All changes to the content must be done in the original source file and a new PDF re-exported.

 

Sometimes the file can be remediated with Acrobat's AutoTag utility, but we often find that this doesn't work because the missing content can't be recovered and retagged.

 

Check the tag tree again, especially on the page where the edits were made. Expand the <Tags> so that you can see the individual yellow content containers. You should see the paragraph text. If the containers are empty, the edits caused them to disappear. (The content is still visible on the page, but not in the tag tree.)

 

|    Bevi Chagnon   |  Designer & Technologist for Accessible Documents
|    Classes & Books for Accessible InDesign, PDFs & MS Office |

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 29, 2023 Dec 29, 2023

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Thank you very much for that information. So then would a screen reader be unable to read the PDF because of the edits/changes made to tags?

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Community Expert ,
Dec 29, 2023 Dec 29, 2023

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Yes.

Screen readers like JAWS and NVDA read the tag tree and the content that's in the yellow content containers.

If the content containers are empty, then most likely you'll hear crickets (aka, nothing).

 

The only guaranteed solution I know is to have your colleague make the edits to the Word document when they return after the holiday, and then re-export a new PDF. Point them to the link above where the blog gives instructions on how to do that.

 

Best to you.

 

|    Bevi Chagnon   |  Designer & Technologist for Accessible Documents
|    Classes & Books for Accessible InDesign, PDFs & MS Office |

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