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Accessibility in InDesign

Explorer ,
Feb 01, 2022 Feb 01, 2022

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I recall seeing an Adobe online publication some while ago that was devoted to accessibility in InDesign. Of course, I can't find it again. Does anyone have a link?

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Community Expert ,
Feb 01, 2022 Feb 01, 2022

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Community Expert ,
Feb 01, 2022 Feb 01, 2022

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Accessibility is more complex than what you'll learn from an online reference, even mine.

 

Example, my live online class is 16 hours long and I wish I had about 4 more for my students so we can get into some more complex design issues.

 

But to narrow accessible PDFs down to the essentials:

 

  1. Everything in the document must tagged, even it's an artifact (which is am attribute on the Figure tag).
     
  2. Each element must have the correct tag that identifies its purpose and context. Examples: H1  - H6 for headings, Note for footnotes.
     
  3. The PDF's Tag Tree must have a logical Tag reading order.
     
  4. The PDF's architectural reading order (the Order panel) must also be logical.
     
  5. All graphics must either have appropriate Alt Text or are artifacted.
     
  6. All hyperlinks must be accessible hyperlinks. Includes: cross references, index entries, TOCs, URLs, and email addresses.

 

There are more requirements and accessibility features to meet PDF/UA and WCAG accessibility standards, but these 6 items are the foundation that must be there for all PDFs to be usable and accessible for the majority of users.

 

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

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Explorer ,
Feb 07, 2022 Feb 07, 2022

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I notice that your note seems to refer only to Acrobat, which I sort of understand, I am sort of hoping to do some of the work in InDesign. For instance I have a repeating graphic logo on every page, which should be an artifact. Can I tag and export it as such in InDesign?

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Explorer ,
Feb 09, 2022 Feb 09, 2022

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With your help, I seem to be in good shape. Many thanks, Bevi

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Community Expert ,
Feb 09, 2022 Feb 09, 2022

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All 6 items listed above are done, preferably, in InDesign and not Acrobat.

Once the PDF file is created, it's too cumbersome to build in all of those features.

So for tags, you specify the PDF tag in the Paragraph Style's definition in the Export Tags section (at the bottom). Choose the most appropriate tag from the drop-down menu.

 

And yes, repeating logos should be artifacted, and in most publications, everything on the Parent Page (aka, Master Page) as well, which InDesign does automatically.

 

When the work is done correctly in InDesign, you end up with a very compliant, accessible PDF. Not perfect yet (Adobe hasn't given us all the tools we need nor corrected the bugs), but one that can be quickly polished in Acrobat in minutes.

 

That's the strategy: do it the right, right from the start in InDesign.

 

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

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Explorer ,
Feb 09, 2022 Feb 09, 2022

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Many thanks Bevi. I'm pretty much doing that by now, as I've beaten a couple of InDesign glitches into submission. 

 

One more question, if you please, the document is massive, 550 pages. I've been noticing my computer laboring a bit under the strain, plus acrobat has a tendency to crash while I'm doing accessibility things, and I'm thinking of exporting from InDesign in 50 page chunks and then running the accessibility check and assembling in acrobat. Would this have any adverse effects on accessibility once the full document is assembled?

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Community Expert ,
Feb 09, 2022 Feb 09, 2022

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Good strategy, but make it easier on yourself <grin>.

 

Any time the page count goes beyond 100, we consider breaking it into logical sections and use InDesign's Book utility to manage them (and export 1 PDF from all of them, and make one TOC from all of them). You're really asking for problems when one INDD file is 500 pages!

 

1. Break up the one long INDD file into several. Whatever makes sense, like at chapters or major sections.

 

2. If it's all threaded together, you might need to use the Break Thread script:

—Window / Utilities / Scripts to bring up the panel.

—In the Community folder, choose BreakTextThread.jsx and follow the instructions.

 

3. Create a new "book" (File / New / Book) and then drag the individual INDD files in order into the panel.

 

4. View the Online Helpx for books at https://helpx.adobe.com/indesign/using/creating-book-files.html to learn how to control pagination between the files, export one PDF from the files, and more tasks.

 

As long as you make one PDF from the book, accessibility should be just fine. Your other method, combining the files individually in Acrobat, is a royal PITA hot mess of work.

 

Remember, to meet the PDF/UA-1 accessibility standards, you must have a live TOC in any PDF that is 10 pages or longer, as well as Acrobat Bookmarks in the bookmarks panel. You won't get that and their correct hyperlinks if you piece the files together in Acrobat.

 

So, yes, break it up into smaller sections. Use the Book utility to manage everything.

 

 

 

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

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 19, 2024 Jun 19, 2024

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Dear Bevi, apologies for jumping on this tread.

In light of your awesome explanation above, could I assume that the reading order will be stablished by the order that the files are organised in a book?

I have a 26 files (chapters) book file created and need to make it accessible, do I need to create Articles within each file (chapter) and then when exporting the single book pdf it will take trhe order from there + specific chapter order from articles? 

Sorry, very wordy and convoluted, just want to make sure I explain it correctly.

 

Thank you so much in advance.

Jules

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Community Expert ,
Jul 02, 2024 Jul 02, 2024

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Hi Jules @Juliana229272525g0z 

Unfortunately, InDesign's book utility/panel has plusses and minuses. As you'll read here in the forums, many of us Community Experts avoid using it when possible, but there are times when it's essential and your project looks that way to me.

 

Accessibility can work so that when you export the entire PDF from the Book Panel's Options menu you'll end up with a complete PDF that should be fairly accessible (nothing is every fully accessible, not matter what you do you'll always have to tweak the PDF a bit in Acrobat).

 

quote

... could I assume that the reading order will be stablished by the order that the files are organised in a book?

By @Juliana229272525g0z

 

First, what do you mean by "reading order":  there are several different reading orders in a PDF (see blog post at https://www.pubcom.com/blog/2020_08-18_ReadingOrder/reading-orders.shtml).  The 2 main ROs for accessible PDFs are:

  • The Tag Tree's RO, which is mainly controlled by threading your story frames, but also affected by the Articles Panel.  This RO is specified in the PDF/UA standards.
  • The Order Tree (which shouldn't be called THE Order panel because it's not the one-and-only order in a PDF, <grin>) which we call the "Architectural Order" to help differentiate between these two orders. This RO is affected by the sequence of items in InDesign's Layers Panel.  This order, although mistakenly overlooked by the PDF/UA standard, controls how the PDF will be viewed on many assistive technologies but not screen readers.
  • In an InDesign book, yes, the book panel's sequence of chapters controls the "big picture" RO, but each chapter's RO is controlled by each chapter.

 

So our workflow stresses:

 

  1. Make each individual chapter as accessible as possible. Thread each chapter's main story frames from start to finish to create one story "flow," with graphics, sidebars, callouts, and other frames anchored into that story flow.
  2. The Articles Panel is optional and often is not needed at all if your story is threaded correctly.
  3. Control the sequence of items in the Layers Panel for each chapter. In the Layers Panel, the sequence should read bottom-up: that is the bottom-most item is read first in some technologies.
  4. Organize the chapters in the Book Panel.
  5. Export the entire book using the export option in the Book Panel.

 

This strategy works very well when we use it here at our studio for books and long documents. In my Accessible InDesign classes and book, I cover it and show several ways to accomplish this.

 

Best to you!

 

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

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