[Athen] STEM and Accessible PDF files

chagnon at pubcom.com chagnon at pubcom.com
Thu Jan 28 21:06:17 PST 2021

STEM PDFs begin with making the basics accessible: tagged text and a logical tag reading order. Given that you’re in a college setting where students use all kinds of devices, you’ll also want to go beyond the requirements and also make the Architectural/Construction reading order logical too, as many of those devices use the Order panel instead of the Tags panel. And you’ll need good, descriptive Alt-text on conventional graphics.

After that, work on the STEM portions:

* Formulas/Maths
* Statistical charts/graphics
* Info graphics
* Technical drawings

There are many ways to make them accessible; what you choose depends upon the subject matter and content in the PDF.

FYI, try to avoid making alternative formats. You end up with duplicate versions of the content and inevitably one gets out of date. It’s really management nightmare. So aim to make PDFs work for all users.

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Bevi Chagnon | Designer, Accessibility Technician | <mailto:Chagnon at PubCom.com> Chagnon at PubCom.com

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PubCom: Technologists for Accessible Design + Publishing

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Upcoming classes at <http://www.pubcom.com/classes> www.PubCom.com/classes

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<https://mailchi.mp/e694edcdfadd/class-discount-3266574> Latest blog-newsletter – <https://www.pubcom.com/blog/2020_07-20/alt-text_part-1.shtml> Simple Guide to Writing Alt-Text

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Amy Robasse
Sent: Thursday, January 28, 2021 11:45 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: [Athen] STEM and Accessible PDF files


I am in the process of working with departments on campus to train student workers how to make PDF files accessible, and then building a campus database that will hold them all. However, as it turns out, we've never had to make any STEM PDF's accessible.

Can I please be given some guidance on how to go about this? I have tried various searches on Google and really haven't found a simple answer that gets me started. I also haven't seen anything that states exceptions to accessible PDF files, so I am really confused as to how to make some of these materials read with text-to-speech or a screen reader vs providing an alternative format.

I think it's important to note that we are doing this to be compliant, versus current student need. If there is some exception where alternative formats can be provided for these PDF documents, that works. At the same time I need to better educate myself so that should one of our vision impaired or blind students take a STEM class I know exactly what I need to do without scrambling.

Thank you all so much!





Amy Robasse, MA

Coordinator of Disability Services

Working Remotely - Schedule your virtual appointment <https://arobasse.youcanbook.me>

-----> Want to connect with other students with disabilities? Email me <mailto:arobasse at cornellcollege.edu> for our Zoom chat info!

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