The Portable Document Format: An Analysis of PDF Accessibility

  • Patricia Acosta-VargasEmail author
  • Mario Gonzalez
  • Maria Rosa Zambrano
  • Ana Medina
  • Noah Zweig
  • Luis Salvador-Ullauri
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 1207)


Today, PDFs are frequently used as part of the preservation of historical documents in libraries, and they are also one of the most used formats on the web when sharing information. Unfortunately, most shared documents are not accessible, especially for users with disabilities. To solve this problem, we propose to relate accessibility techniques for PDF documents in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. As a case study, we have selected a random sample of 10 documents related to the modern architectural heritage of Quito. The authors applied a combined method to check accessibility in PDFs with the help of the PDF Accessibility Checker version 3.0,

The results revealed that the accessibility barriers that are repeated in most documents are related to the content and the natural language of the analyzed PDFs. The analysis applied in this investigation can contribute to future works to generate more inclusive PDF documents.


Accessibility Digital documents Portable document PDF techniques WCAG 2.1 



The researchers thank Universidad de Las Américas - Ecuador, for funding this study through projects UDLA FGE.PAV.19.11, and ARQ.AMG.1802.


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia Acosta-Vargas
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Mario Gonzalez
    • 1
  • Maria Rosa Zambrano
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ana Medina
    • 1
  • Noah Zweig
    • 1
  • Luis Salvador-Ullauri
    • 2
  1. 1.Universidad de Las Américas, Vía a NayónQuitoEcuador
  2. 2.Universidad de AlicanteAlicanteSpain
  3. 3.Universidad Politécnica de MadridMadridSpain

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