ISO 14289 (PDF/UA) was published in the late summer of 2012. At a mere sixteen pages, the International Standard for accessible PDF technology does not, by itself, provide all the information necessary for developers to create software for accessible PDF! PDF/UA merely specifies, in software development terms, the means of using PDF technology to produce reliably accessible results.
In 2010 the US Committee for PDF/UA began developing a companion document for PDF/UA to provide additional information for software developers working on PDF/UA implementations. The results of this effort have now been published by AIIM as PDF/UA-1 Technical Implementation Guide: Understanding ISO 14289-1 (PDF/UA-1).
Here I’ve tried to cover a few basic questions about the new Guide.
What the Guide is For
This Guide provides software implementers with context, information and examples to illuminate ISO 14289-1 beyond the text of the standard itself. For example, the Guide begins by explaining something that’s actually not stated elsewhere as such:
For the most part, PDF/UA simply serves to require many elements that are optional in ISO 32000-1.
Intended to be read side-by-side with PDF/UA, this Guide does not expand or change the normative text of the standard; where PDF/UA is suitably clear as written the Guide is silent.
What the Guide is Not
Reliably accessible PDF has been a long time in coming. Many enthusiastic users have read PDF/UA hoping for revelations they can put to work in existing software, or to find guidance for their workflows. There’s precious little of that type of information in PDF/UA; the standard’s really much more about the inner workings of the PDF format than a “how to” guide to help end users achieve accessible outcomes with existing tools.
This Guide does not substitute for ISO 14289-1, nor is it a “how to” guide; it simply provides developers with additional information to help them understand the requirements of PDF/UA.
Once again, thanks to AIIM
As with PDF/UA itself, development of the PDF/UA Technical Implementation Guide was led by the US Committee for ISO 14289, an AIIM standards committee since 2004. Whether they know it or not, today’s PDF software implementers, AT vendors and end users are deeply indebted to AIIM for its dedication to advancing technical standards and the means of implementing them.