PDF Remediation

What is Portable Document Format (PDF) Remediation?

To remediate a PDF is to make it accessible and ADA-compliant--the goal being that ALL individuals, regardless of any perceived disability, have an equal opportunity to access web content and obtain the same user experience.

To PDF or not to PDF?

PDF is great for distributing documents that need to be printed. But according to usability expert Jakob Nielsen, that's all it's good for. He states, "No matter how tempting it might be, you should never use PDF for content that you expect users to read online. In fact, forcing users to browse PDF documents makes your website's usability about 300% worse relative to HTML pages." Thus, we always encourage people to eliminate the need for PDF as much as possible.

For those who are unaware, PDF files are not typically created in Acrobat. They are usually created in another program and then converted to PDF. (UCM does not allow other file formats to be published from Cascade due to the fact that Portable Document Format ensures that a document looks the same online as it does in print form. This includes ensuring that the document looks the same on different systems without having to install specialized fonts or rely on underlying operating system packages.)

Alternatives to PDFs

  • If a form, convert the information to an online form using Formstack.
    If you have not previously used FormStack, you will need to first sign up for a Formstack accout through UCM.
  • Use HTML (i.e., web page) to render the information.
    This is frequently the simplest option and also the most desirable. This method is not only more accessible to people using screen readers, it is also more user-friendly for people accessing the information on a phone or other mobile device; in short, it is optimal for everyone.
If you must post a PDF online, the document must be accessible OR the same information rendered in HTML must accompany it.


Getting your PDF remediated

Accessibility is achieved more easily when the native file is created with that in mind; however, many, if not most, PDF documents produced at Miami have been generated from "legacy" content or crafted without any consideration for accessibility. Thus, if you are deciding to publish a PDF online, remediation may or may not be a labor-intensive and costly.

If you have access to the source document, such as the original MS Word file used to create the PDF, or if the document is short enough that you can re-type it quickly, you can use that file to create a more accessible version of the PDF.

You can send your document to the AccessMU Center to have it checked and remediated if necessary. They may send your document to a vendor if the process cannot be completed in house. Any fees from a vendor will be charged to the requesting department.

You can contact AccessMU if you have questions about remediation. 

Request a Document Accessibility Review