There are so many PDF files hosted on the public Internet that it’s almost like a whole second version of the World Wide Web. Users can find in-depth articles, scientific research and even entire books in this format even if they wouldn’t otherwise find this information on a standard site.
Many people would have some difficulty handling these documents, however. Section 508 requirements specifically spell out what the United States Department of Health and Human Services expects of people who publish PDFs online.
While individual private sites might theoretically not have to worry about these guidelines, all but a few are good practices even just from the standpoint of computer usability. Those who run public .edu resources, accept government money or do any kind of work for a government agency will certainly want to ensure that they’re followed to avoid any legal implications.
Fortunately, it’s easy to create a 508 compliant PDF document simply by following each of these guidelines:
In most cases, these guidelines are enough to ensure compliance. Do your best to avoid relying on embedded content. If you’re creating plain text PDFs with proper captions for images, then you shouldn’t have to work too hard. Avoiding images altogether will take most of the guesswork out of the process, and it might even help reduce the load on your server by trimming down file sizes.
While the HHS does provide some other guidelines involving things like file names, these may not necessarily apply to your specific situation. Considering how many files some organizations have hosted, it can be hard to tell whether or not any of these particular rules are relevant.
SiteCompliance takes all the guesswork out of the process and can help ensure that you don’t run afoul of the law. Contact us today when you’re ready to learn more about how an automated compliance audit can ensure your site remains accessible for all users.