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PDFs and accessibility

| Proposal No: 2093

Bios & Handouts


  • Gian Wild, Ms, AccessibilityOz

Disability Area:          

Topic Area:                

Length of Session (in hours): 1-hrFormat: Lecture Expertise Level: BeginnerType of session: Not provided

Summary of Session

Gian Wild looks into PDF use in 2014 and the experiences of both the general public and people with disabilities. She will also talk about how to deal with the legacy PDF problem.


In Australia in 2010 the Government conducted an enquiry into the accessibility of PDFs and found that they could not be defined as an accessible technology. As a result, all PDFs must also be provided in an alternative format such as HTML, Word, RTF or text. Four years later, Gian Wild looks at whether PDFs can be considered an accessible technology with specific focus on the WCAG2 PDF techniques. With the increasing use of mobiles and tablets to access web sites, what effect does this have on PDF usage? If the conclusion is that PDF cannot be reliably considered an accessible technology then what are the alternatives? If a tagged PDF is considered accessible, then is it really feasible to tag the thousands of legacy PDFs that might be on a web site?


  1. Tagging PDFs may not be the most appropriate course of action for accessibility
  2. Being able to identify which PDFs must be tagged
  3. Making sure users get the information they need

Speaker Bio(s)

Gian Wild

Gian works in the area of web accessibility: making sure web sites and mobile apps can be used by people with disabilities. She spent six years contributing to the international set of web accessibility guidelines used around the world and is also the CEO and Founder of AccessibilityOz. With offices in Australia and the United States, AccessibilityOz has been operating for five years. Its clients include the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Optus, Seek and Foxtel. A 2017 Australian of the Year award nominee, Gian splits her time between Australia the US. A regular speaker at conferences around the world, in 2015 she presented to the United Nations on the importance of web accessibility at the Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.