Testing PDFs for Accessibility and Standards Conformance



  • Paul Rayius, Director of Training, CommonLook

Session Details

  • Length of Session: Quick Talks
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Intermediate
  • Type of session: Pre-conference


Increase your understanding of the PDF accessibility requirements, compare three of the most popular testing tools, and learn where automation can fit into the workflow.


This session explores the struggle to make PDFs accessible and how to test them to make sure that they comply with accessibility standards. Many organizations do not know how to properly test PDF documents to ensure they are accessible and meet the accessibility standards. During the first part of this session, we’ll take a very brief look at accessibility laws and try to answer the frequently asked question, “How compliant do we have to be?”. Next, we’ll address “what to look for when it comes to PDF accessibility.” Document accessibility goes far beyond addressing just “how a screen reader will read this.” Finally, we will compare and contrast three of the most popular manual PDF testing tools – Adobe Acrobat, PAC 3, and the CommonLook PDF Validator. ITC testers who attend this session will gain an understanding of the technical requirements to ensure PDF documents meet the standards, and an awareness of the tools available to test and ensure compliance.


  1. Develop an understanding of the accessibility Standards
  2. Defining exactly what is required in an accessible PDF document
  3. How to read the accessibility reports generated by the three leading testing tools

Disability Areas


Topic Areas

Accessible Educational Materials, Assistive Technology, Legal, Uncategorized, Web/Media Access

Speaker Bio(s)

Paul Rayius

Paul helps a variety of organizations, including healthcare, government agencies (local, state and federal), financial institutions and colleges and universities meet their PDF accessibility needs. In addition to his expertise with the CommonLook suite of tools for testing, creating and remediating PDFs, he is also well versed in accessibility standards including Section 508 (including the recent“ refresh”), AODA, Health and Human Services (HHS), WCAG 2.0 and PDF/UA. Paul is a member of the IAAP (International Association of Accessibility Professionals), the PDF Association’s PDF/UA Competence Center and the PDF/UA Technical Working Group. He participates in and moderates several online accessibility groups and forums.