PDFs and Other Documents

PDFs and Other Documents

How to Approach PDF Remediation

  1. Prune your site. Keep only PDFs that site visitors need.  Get rid of outdated files.
  2. For the PDFs you need to keep, see if you can turn them into web page content or simple online forms.
  3. If you must post PDFs or other non-HTML content (i.e. Word docs, PowerPoint presentations) on your website, you need to either designate funds to hire a PDF Remediation Service (see below) or learn how to make them accessible.
  4. If you tackle a PDF yourself, determine what the accessiblity issues are.
  5. Note the article at the end of the list below on using a simulator to check your PDF.

To proceed with remediating your PDFs, the Web Accessibility section of the IT @ Cornell site has several articles about remediating PDFs and other documents. Currently there are articles for the following topics, so you can focus on whatever issue you're having, but they are all interlinked: 

Where relevant, most articles cover how to do things in Word, InDesign and Adobe Acrobat.

PDF Remediation Services

If you have a large number of PDFs that you must make available online and don’t have time to remediate, there are many PDF remediation services out there.  CIT has a preferred vendor for this work.  See PDF Remediation Vendor

Process for Reviewing & Remediating PDFs on the Top Sites Remediation List

The following process applies only to the top sites that have to be remediated by the end of 2019.

Step 1: Review all of your PDFs.  Decide what PDFs should remain on your website, remove any legacy PDFs that are no longer needed.

Step 2: Where appropriate, convert PDFs to web page content and/or simple online forms.

Step 3: For those PDFs deemed as needing to stay in PDF (or similar file types) format (that do not fall into 1 or 2 above), organize your PDFs into two lists: 

  1. Those actively used by your various audiences (i.e. PDF forms, critical content tied to your site)
  • For these:  You must remediate and post accessible versions. 
  1. Those that are posted for archival purposes and must remain online for a purpose (i.e. scholarly PDFs, scanned memos pertaining to history, etc.)
  • For these:  Remediate if possible.  If not, you must post a notice next to the PDF stating: All newly created PDFs on this website are accessible, for an accommodation for this PDF please contact XX.  You must provide an address where an accommodation can be responded to quickly (in days).