David Berman Communications
David Berman will help you repeat your successes

Accessible Documents by Design: workflow from source to PDF

(Word, Powerpoint, InDesign, PDF — Adobe Acrobat Pro, Kofax PowerPDF Pro, Nuance PowerPDF Advanced, Foxit) / W3C WCAG / AODA / PDF/UA / Section 508 / EN 301 549) course

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Transcript | David Berman on The New Standard on Web Accessibility WCAG 2.0 events

Transcript of the video David Berman on The New Standard on Web Accessibility WCAG 2.0 events.

(The speaker, David Berman is sitting in an armchair by the fireplace. Throughout the entire video, he addresses the camera directly.)

I’m David Berman and I’m often asked why Web accessibility matters so much, and why people should care: why people should bother making sure their web presences are accessible.

The simple answer is legislation tells us we have to. I have the background of knowing how to make websites accessible and i’ve put together this one-day course which takes you through why it matters, what the major issues are,and how to make your web presence accessible. It’s really important for us that when people come out of this course that they have usable knowledge.

And so we focus on WCAG 2.0 Level AA. Why? Because that’s the standard that the United States has in Section 508. That’s the standard that the Canadian government has chosen, and the new Web standards and provinces and states like Ontario’s AODA call for that level AA compliance. If you learn this, you’ll learn the standard that everyone in the world is heading towards.

The most important point I want to share is that accessibility matters to everyone.

When we know how to make a site accessible for the extremes, and we do it well, we do it in a way that the site becomes more usable for everyone.

A more usable site is going to make it more likely that your audience is going to connect with your message. If you can get your audience to support themselves by going to the site, you can drive down your support costs, as well as having more satisfied customers.

Why wouldn’t you want that? [chuckles] I find this course is fascinating and educational for both people in management, as well as IT professionals.

I find when people come out of this course they’re excited, they’re motivated, they’re entertained.

Most importantly, they’re educated … and the information sticks. Over the past ten years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of organizations on four continents: professionals who see the value to their business, to their communities,to their bottom line, in making their web sites more accessible.

If you’re a manager, if you’re an IT professional, if you’re a programmer, if you’re a designer, join us: for web accessibility matters.

(Text on screen:

Web Accessibility Matters.

www.davidberman.com )

(David Berman Communications wordmark)



Course Description

PLEASE NOTE: When we present this topic in a public course, it is part of our comprehensive course that ALSO includes accessible Web pages … when we present it for your organization we can make it exclusively about accessible PDF: your choice!

It used to be that the only way to comply with Web accessibility standards for persons with disabilities or difficulties was to publish content in HTML. One of the most exciting parts of the new Standard On Web Accessibility and WCAG is that it has become feasible for you to choose PDF as the only container for certain content on your Web site … but only if you know how. We’ve worked with Adobe and other experts to put together this comprehensive and powerful course, where attendees walk away with immediately-applicable tips and techniques to make PDF files that are accessible.

De-mystify how to make PDF accessible whether your source is Word, Excel, PowerPoint, InDesign… or existing PDF! Sometimes the best way to provide content in an accessible format is to choose PDF, whether to reduce costs, or to share knowledge and processes more effectively.

Most adults suffer from some level of disability or difficulty that can be mitigated through accessible technologies. And when we design for the extremes, everyone benefits.

Not only will you comply with the standards (AODA, WCAG, Standard On Web Accessibility, Section 508, …): you’ll be broadening the audience for your content while enriching the experience of existing users.

Now covering WCAG 2.0 and 2.1!

“Thank you to you for providing such knowledgeable information during the training. The designers learned a lot: this will give them more confidence.”

– Nathalie L Lauzon, University of Ottawa

“Techniques I can use.”

– Liv Stenersen, Government Administration Services, Oslo (Norway)

“Fun and engaging… David is great!”

– James Welsh, Conference Board of Canada

David Berman will convince you of why accessibility is important for everybody, then provide in-depth familiarity with federal and international guidelines that will help your PDF content be a more effective resource for your entire audience. You’ll also gain familiarity with assistive technologies that help people with specific disabilities and difficulties.

Canada’s federal government led the world when it first introduced its accessibility-centric Common Look & Feel (CLF) policy, now replaced with its Standard On Web Accessibility and Standard on Web Usability. Our full-day course includes a thorough review of every pertinent standards that apply to accessible PDF, including other policies which call for WCAG Level A and AA compliance (such as U.S. Section 508 and Ontario’s AODA). These new standards allow PDF to be your primary format, but only if your PDF is truly accessible … and that is poorly understood. We’ll cover everything from tables to charts to fillable forms and testing recommendations.


Not only will you leave with ideas you can use right away, you may also gain a whole new attitude towards how technology can improve lives. By the end of the day you will not only be aware of why accessibility and standards affect everyone: you’ll be equipped with a thorough understanding  of what needs to be done and how, including tools and testing techniques. Each full-day participant leaves with a comprehensive 160+ page learning guide, detailing every relevant accessibility success criterion.

This course incorporates adult learning principles and activities appropriate to a variety of learning styles, and qualifies for CEUs (certified by organizations such as PPAC).

“Excellent… knowledge I can use.”

– Sandra Clark, Ministry of Trade and
Industry, Oslo (Norway)

“Focused and easy to follow.”

-Jason Hollett, gordongroup

“Great. He kept me listening and understanding.”

– Matthew Brunetti, Lixar IT


– Morten Budeng, King Design


– Sylvie Nyman, Indian and Northern
Affairs Canada

What’s Wrong

Computer-mediated accessibility to information represents the greatest liberation in human history. Most people in our societies have some sort of physical or mental difficulty which can stand in the way of clear Web communication unless proper design steps are taken.

Now that PDF is recognized as a legitimate primary format for accessible publishing, there’s a need for people to understand what constitutes sufficiently-accessible PDF, and the steps to get there with the least expense and effort. Although most professional developers now create content with some awareness of browser incompatibilities
and platform dependencies, they still experience difficulties with emerging accessibility standards. Much PDF continues to be developed based on assumptions that don’t address the specific needs of people with
disabilities and difficulties and thus fail to deliver the promise of accessible PDF.

“Very good speaker – good sense of humour.”

– Johan Fong, House of Commons


– Sjur Kristiansen, Telenor Telecommunications

“Eye-opening. Love your method of teaching.”

– Jean Descrochers, National Research

What Makes This Course Unique

Our course leader, David Berman, is a consultant on accessible for large IT projects, and has worked on Web accessibility projects for many large organizations including Statistics Canada, the National Research
Council, and IBM.

He is a high-level advisor to the United Nations on how accessible IT can help fulfill the Millennium Development Goals more rapidly.

He has been the project manager of numerous accessible Web projects, has developed strategy and design for CFIA, CRA, CMHC, Health Canada, Canadian Heritage, Industry Canada, and the International Space Station … as well as many private sector and non-profit organizations.

By addressing and understanding accessibility issues, publishers can more effectively deliver their message to their entire audience, regardless of physical or mental impediments, while complying with legal and moral responsibilities.

“I enjoyed it all.”

– Robert Hallat, Public Service Commission

“Right on target.”

– Marius Monsen, Reaktor ID

“He knows what to do!” “This will guide us for the AA Standards”

– Bassil Wehbe, Agriculture Canada

What You Will Learn

You will learn how to make your current communications more accessible by complying with standards and guidelines. Specifically, you will learn:


  • why we make documents accessible
  • assistive technologies used by document users
  • which laws and regulations apply to your documents
  • W3C WCAG success criteria and how they apply to documents
  • using templates to build documents that are accessible by default
  • standards on developing accessible documents
  • specific technologies and design techniques used to satisfy core  accessibility issues
  • how to make documents even more accessible
  • understanding of how enterprise-wide document development processes can save money and time by making document generation more systematic
  • testing frameworks for accessible documents

“Very good: made me think…”

– Bente Mollevik, Norwegian Savings
Bank Association

“Great: very comprehensive. Touching on all aspects of accessibility.”

– Marc Iafelice, CFIA

“David really knows his topics. Very well done: got the point across in a way that can be apply to everyone.”

– Sean Strasbourg, CFIA


At the end of this event, you will:

  • be exposed to techniques you can apply right away to make document content more accessible
  • have a comprehensive understanding of W3C WCAG and current government accessibility policies as they apply to documents … and how to meet them
  • be able to make informed decisions as to which document format is the best medium
  • be able to make informed decisions as to when to make documents accessible on your own versus outsourcing
  • know how to handle situations where a document will intentionally not be made accessible
  • know you’re doing the “right thing” by ensuring accessibility for all


– Steinar Sandum, Adax, Svelvik (Norway)

“Interesting content, really well delivered. Visual and engaging. Gives us a common language and approach.”

– Chris Cook, CFIA

“This will change the way we work.”

– Sharon Drolet, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

What You Get

When David Berman Communications hosts this course publicly*, regular ticket holders receive:

  • a complimentary, comprehensive 160+ page learning guide, detailing every applicable accessibility standard (also
    available separately for $97, with optional 1-on-1 distance coaching)
  • a thirty-minute one-on-one personal coaching tele-session with David or one his top experts within a month
  • the option to attend this course again in the future, as a refresherat no additional cost
  • the option to attend the first half on one date and the second half at a future date
  • a money-back guarantee: if, after coaching and refresher, you don’t think you’ve got your money’s worth, we’ll refund your entire fee
(*If you are attending one of our courses hosted by another organization, confirm which of these items apply.)

Register (at https://davidberman.com/register ) or call 1-613-728-6777… or bring this event to your site: for a keynote, half-day, or full-day event, customized for your group.


Prerequisites: None

Berman speaking in Oslo, Norway on Web accessibility

Berman speaks on accessibility in Oslo, Norway


“Clear and entertaining: will allow more strategic planning rather than just reactionary stumbling.”

– Steve Doody, Justice Canada

“This will make us better communicators.”

– Luc Bergeron, SSHRC


– Jean Leclair, Environment Canada

About the Expert Speaker

David Berman is the principal of David Berman Communications. He has over 25 years of experience in graphic design and strategic communications. He has worked extensively in adapting the printed word for electronic
distribution, including software interface development.

David was appointed a high-level advisor to the United Nations on how design and accessible IT can help fulfill the Millennium Development Goals more rapidly.

He has extensive experience as a senior consultant in applying accessibility and standards to government Web sites, as well as to private sector clients such as IBM, both as a strategist and compliance testing leader. He regularly teaches accessibility principles as part of his professional development workshops, and developed a custom two-day workshop for the National Research Council on common look and feel. His plain writing, design, and accessibility work include award-winning projects for the City of Ottawa, the Ontario government, and Canada’s federal government.
Clients include IBM, Justice Canada, HRDC, Canada Revenue Agency, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Region of Ottawa-Carleton and the Ontario Literacy Coalition.

David has been featured in the Financial Post, the Globe And Mail, the Ottawa Citizen, the Montreal Gazette, Marketing, Applied Arts, HOW, and Communication Arts magazines, as well as ABC and CBC.

In addition to operating as one of the leading design strategists in Canada’s capital, David ranks #1 on speakerwiki.org on this topic for a reason. His arc as an internationally-celebrated expert speaker has brought him to over 30 countries. David is a National Professional Member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) and the Global Speakers Federation (GSF).

David is currently Ethics Chair of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, was named a Fellow (the highest professional honour for graphic designers in Canada) in 1999, and has served as a director and sustainability chair of Icograda, the world body for graphic and communications design.

Guest Presenters

David will often include guest subject matter experts within a full-day course. For instance, in 2011 he has been joined by:

  • Jeff Braybrook (CEO, Blueprint), former Deputy Chief Technology Officer for the Government of Canada, and responsible for CLF

Who Should Attend

This course is targeted to all project managers, Webmasters, production coordinators, IT professionals, strategists, and controllers, involved in developing documents and Web sites.

  • senior departmental officials
  • chief information officers
  • heads of communication
  • Web and document managers
  • people who need to get their Web presences compliant with current and future government accessibility standards
  • people who manage or plan Web sites and electronic publishing
  • people who coordinate people who build Web sites and documents
  • people who design or program Web sites, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, or InDesign documents
  • people who represent clients who hire others to develop Web sites and documents
  • people involved in: IT project management, analysis, architecture, interaction design, graphic design, prototyping, writing, development, quality control
  • developers of online applications, games, mobile apps

This course delivers knowledge required for WCAG Level A and Level AA awareness training as documented in the Government of Canada’s Accessibility Responsibility Breakdown (WCAG 2.0) .


English (French available upon request)


One-day course, half-day course, or keynote presentation (we also provide this course customized on-site for your organization).


“I love David’s approach.”

-Carole Dubuc, Canadian Armed Forces

“Clear, concise, and very useful.”

-Annette Kallevig

“Excellent, eye-opening, and not preachy!”

-Carrie Walker-Boyd, Canadian Food Inspection Agency


Subscribe to our e-news to be notified when we schedule new instances of this topic.


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Reviewed January 9, 2016


“Really enjoyed your session.”

– Jim Dixon

“I love David’s approach.”

– Carole Dubuc, Canadian Armed Forces


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All prices, offerings, and dates subject to change without notice.

To register for a course given by our own organization, register online or call (613) 728-6777.

Event Schedule (all events)

*Discount packages for non-profits, and travel subsidies available. Additional discounts available for groups over 3 people. Call (613) 728-6777 for details.

All prices, offerings, and dates subject to change without notice.

To register for a course given by our own organization, register
or call (613) 728-6777.

Event Schedule (all events)

“Very understandable and fun.”

– Liz Breines, Ministry of Trade and
Industry, Oslo (Norway)

“Highly valuable.”

– Maureen Quirouet, Parliament of Canada



For the convenience of course attendees, we provide this list of hypertext links and books cited in this course’s learning guide roughly in the order they appear in the course and learning guide:

Legislation, lawsuits, and standards

Other countries

Accessibility guidelines

Assistive technologies and techniques

Visual difficulties
Dexterity/mobility/motor difficulties


Hearing difficulties

iOS Accessibility

Android, Windows Phone Accessibility

WCAG 2.0 (including Success Criteria Level A and AA, in order)

Guideline 1.1: Text Alternatives
Guideline 1.2: Time-based Media
Guideline 1.3: Adaptable
Guideline 1.4: Distinguishable
Guideline 2.1: Keyboard Accessible
Guideline 2.2: Enough Time
Guideline 2.3: Seizures
Guideline 2.4: Navigable
Guideline 3.1: Readable
Guideline 3.2: Predictable
Guideline 3.3: Input Assistance
Guideline 4.1: Compatible, etc.

Testing tools for web and mobile

WCAG 2.1 (including the new Success Criteria Level A and AA, in order)

Document standards, techniques and testing


Instructional design software: Adobe Captivate

Instructional design software: Articulate Storyline

Instructional design software: other

Accessible virtual classroom platforms

Introduction to Online Learning and Accessibility

Accessible content management

White papers

Other accessibility links



Choose the registration approach that’s easiest for you:

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11 Responses to “Accessible Documents by Design: workflow from source to PDF”

  1. David Berman says:

    Fantastic course this past Friday March 23 at Adobe Canada! Thank you all for attending (and thanks again to Nicole and Shawn for providing your technically-amazing space for the event!).

    As promised, I’m sharing the best follow-up Q&A…

    Q1. How does QuarkXPress compare to InDesign in terms of being able to produce accessible PDF?
    A1. QuarkXPress is really poor at producing accessible PDF: the resulting PDF from the export is not even tagged (a basic of any accessible PDF file). So InDesign wins this one hands down.

    Q2. Can PrinceXML produce accessible PDF?
    A2. PrinceXML is an amazing tool for converting HTML/XHTML to PDF with your choice of CSS, but unfortunately the resulting PDF files aren’t tagged. We’re talking to its inventor Michael Day about remedying that!

    Q3. May I repeat H1 in my Word files and resulting PDF files?
    A3. There is no rule saying that you must have one and only one H1 in an accessible page, though this is the best practice for many enterprises and governments.

    Q4. Must I have consecutive heading levels in my files? (e.g. can I have 1 H1, 3 H2, 0 H3, 4 H4?)
    A4. WCAG 2.0 has no rule saying that you cannot skip header levels, though avoiding skipping them is a best practice (and I’m going to ask our friends at W3C to make this clearer on their site!). However, regarding PDF, the ISO standard for accessible PDF, which will be published almost certainly this summer, does demand that you not skip heading levels. Therefore your PDF (or HTML) file with skipped heading levels will comply with WCAG 2.0, though it will not comply with the current draft of PDF/UA (should that be a concern for you).

    More questions? Bring them on! And I hope to see you at our upcoming Web accessibility courses produced by T-Base in New York and Toronto (also supported by our friends at AIGA and RGD Ontario)! ( http://www.tbase.com/en/web-accessibility-matters )

  2. Jeff Epp says:

    Hi David,

    Just wondering if you’ll be having any upcoming Accessible PDF By Design classes in the near future, anything in Toronto?



    • David Berman says:

      Hi Jeff,

      I’m giving a public Web accessibility course at the Strathcona Hotel on May 8 in Toronto. It will include PDF though not be exclusively about PDF. We’re also thinking of scheduling a PDF-specific on in Toronto. And of course if you have a group it may be worth choosing your own date and have me come on site. How many of you are there?

  3. Doug Jackson says:

    Hi David,

    I’m looking forward to your course. I’m sure it will clarify things for me. We have been experiencing a lot of confusion around the requirements for accessible PDF content. Many of our government clients, at all levels, are under the assumption that all their PDFs must be WCAG 2.0 AA compliant, even if they make equivalent HTML content available. As well, since PDF accessibility is a relatively new area, many graphic design professionals are also confused by the issues, requirements, remedial tools and processes, and how to advise or lead our clients through the process.

    With all that said, I wanted to propose an idea for public discussion. Please bear with my thought trail on this. As an RGD member, I am happy that our organization put forth an official position, in writing, years ago on the issue of speculative work. They created an official document that members could send to clients or prospects stating it was unethical to request work for free for services rendered. This has been a very helpful and educational tool.

    Now to my point, perhaps the issues around accessible PDFs could be articulated in a similar open letter, coming from the RGD, that clarifies what constitutes accessible standards. For instance, stating that if publishers provide equivalent WCAG 2.0 A or AA HTML content, an accessible PDF is not required online as well. A letter could also define accessibility and succinctly state compliance guidelines, as they exist currently, or any other relevant information on the subject that design professionals could use to educate ourselves and our clientele on accessibility standards.

    I feel there is a lack of standards and that many of us are flailing in the wind as we try to find our way through the landscape and advise our clients. I also feel this is an excellent opportunity for the RGD to provide some leadership and support to the membership on how to manage the issues.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    • David Berman says:

      Hi Doug,

      I’m looking forward to seeing you at the course on March 23, and I’m confident I can completely clear up the confusion that your government clients are experiencing (bring them if you’d like! 🙂 ) around accessible PDF. I agree that there is a general lack of awareness about accessible PDFs, and not just in the standards but also in the techniques that are best applied in the source documents (Word, InDesign, Powerpoint,…) to drive down costs and increase quality. It’s never been easier to create accessible documents!

      And, Doug, I think that your idea of an open letter from RGD Ontario that clarifies direction on minimum standards for accessible formats (PDF, HTML, etc.) would help both professionals and our community. It fits very well with the leadership role RGD has already exhibited in working with the Ontario government to help clarify various aspects of universal design and the new AODA regulations. I’d certainly be pleased to assist in whatever way I can to help communicate this.

      … it’s not just about regulations… when we design for the extremes, everyone benefits. Whether you’re doing it to fulfill regulations, to broaden your audience, to improve your SEO, for HR reasons, or simply to be proud to be in a society where no one is left behind, we as a profession have an opportunity (and thus a responsibility) to use our position and our power to do good with design.

      Warm regards,

      • Doug Jackson says:

        Hi David,

        Thanks for the response. I’m confident at the end of next week’s course I’ll have a clearer picture of how to proceed on issues surrounding the whole accessibility universe. I’m looking forward to collaborating with you, and hopefully the RGD, in the next weeks to pen something that helps clarify the waters that are muddy for some of us in the design profession.


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