In January 2017, the U.S. Access Board finally issued the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines, in the first revision/update of the existing Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, (“508 Standards”), and the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines under Section 255 of the Communications Act of 1934 (“255 Guidelines”). These Standards are now in effect as of January 18, 2018.
It is mistakenly believed that PDF/UA is the “new” standard for PDF compliance; this is incorrect. During the process of updating the standards, PDF/UA was recommended as the reference for PDF compliance, as it is widely used and specific to PDF- and is much more comprehensive than WCAG for PDFs- but the reference was removed in the final ruling. Section 508 compliant PDFs must conform to WCAG 2.0:
The intent of the proposed IBR of PDF/UA–1 in the NPRM was to make conformance assessment of PDF documents easier, assuming that, in the future, PDF/UA–1 would become widely adopted. WCAG 2.0 strongly informed the development of PDF/UA–1. With the exception of the contrast requirement, PDF/UA–1 includes most accessibility requirements relevant to the PDF format, including textual equivalence for static graphical elements. However, PDF/UA–1 does not address scripting or the use of PDF files as a container for video. Therefore, the end user would still have to reference WCAG 2.0 for some requirements to ensure that a PDF file is fully accessible. Because WCAG 2.0 can be used as a sole standard for PDF compliance, and PDF/UA–1 cannot, the Board finds WCAG 2.0 to be appropriate as the sole standard for PDF files. Therefore, in the final rule, we have removed the reference to PDF/UA–1 from E205.4, C203.1, and 602.3.
AIM Documents Comply With WCAG AND PDF/UA
In order to provide the most accessible content, all AIM remediated documents will comply with the standards set forth in both PDF/UA and WCAG. WCAG, which is primarily aimed at website content, does not provide specific guidance when it comes to PDF structure and syntax; PDF/UA does. In order to ensure our documents are compliant, we will meet both standards