June 23, 2015

The Best Way to Create Transaction Document Accessible PDFs – Part 1

Many document industry colleagues have asked me, “What is the best way to create high volume, Accessible PDFs of my invoice, statement, or documents that will allow our organization to be compliant with accessibility laws and regulations?

Is it better to remediate using a composition tool or is it better to remediate post composition using a transform solution like Crawford Technologies Inc. PRO Transform Plus PDF/UA?


Firstly, we say that making documents accessible can be done many ways - and we believe that providing accessible documents to your clients is first and foremost the most beneficial service for your blind or partially sighted clients. We advocate that any tool that can provide accessible documents will benefit your client’s experience immensely. As I answer this question, it seems most people still want to know what is better. They go on to tell me that certain HVTO Composition tools now have support for Accessible PDF tagging while others tell me many solutions don’t go all the way to full Accessible PDF compliance and as such, they fail their accessibility checks.

I thought I would investigate this further – “Should I remediate using my composition tool or should I use a post composition transform?”

So here goes. As we know many organizations generate customer communications or transaction data through their computing systems destined for a print shop for print, mail or ePresentment. This means they are composed into a statement or invoice that are mailed to the client and perhaps the PDF or AFP file is stored in an archive.

Composition Tool Remediation

a) Great for documents from today forward. As we continue to grow out our archives and electronic content management systems, we are creating Accessible PDFs and storing them based on composition scripts from today forward – what about what’s in your archive already and how do we deal with archived documents needing conversion to Accessible PDF?

b) If you have already stored documents for the past seven years, do you really want to go back and recompose them into accessible PDF and do you really have the object files to compile past statement redesigns or updates?

c) Consider your composition tool. With regularity, composition tools are updated with new versions and you’ll have to go back and rebuild a statement with tags to make sure it is an accessible PDF friendly document while also recompiling those documents again.

d) What happens when the PDF/UA standard or WCAG guidelines change? Does this also mean you’ll have to journey back and make these documents compliant in your archive?

e) What about your organization’s archives that are populated with PDF/A or AFP based files? The composition tool is only as good as its destination output and again you’ll have to return to source data and object files to republish an Accessible Output.

f) The cost of a person doing composition versus someone who is tagging is significantly more. This is a similar argument in the world of accessible HTML versus using Accessible PDF to present documents. Skill sets are different and the labor resource focused on composition is more specialized and ultimately more costly.

g) What if you have resources stored as AFP, PDF and as flat data? What about the fonts and resources that needs to be managed. This becomes cumbersome in a Composition to Accessible PDF workflow.

Want more? stay tuned for part 2 of this discussion I will talk about Post Composition tools and what to look for when choosing between the two.

Interested in seeing how to remediate transactional documents? Join our experts for an educational webinar demoing the adaptive technology that customers use to access their statement and bills.