Producing accessible (508 compliant) PDFs from Excel

%3CLINGO-SUB%20id%3D%22lingo-sub-2144630%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3EProducing%20accessible%20(508%20compliant)%20PDFs%20from%20Excel%3C%2FLINGO-SUB%3E%3CLINGO-BODY%20id%3D%22lingo-body-2144630%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3E%3CP%3EHi%20%E2%80%93%20I%20have%20some%20questions%20about%20generating%20accessible%20(to%20visually%20impaired%20persons)%20PDFs%20from%20Excel%20files.%20I%20have%20little-to-no%20expertise%20in%20this%20realm%20and%20am%20not%20finding%20much%20helpful%20information%20online.%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3EThe%20basic%20scenario%20is%3A%3C%2FP%3E%3CUL%3E%3CLI%3EA%20workbook%20with%20numerous%20worksheets%20(60%2B)%2C%20each%20of%20which%20contains%20a%20report%20consisting%20of%3A%3CUL%3E%3CLI%3EA%20table%20that%20is%20populated%20dynamically%20from%20an%20Oracle%20database%20(based%20on%20an%20input%20parameter%20of%20year).%20Each%20table%20has%20column%20headers%20across%20the%20top%2C%20dates%20along%20the%20left%20side.%3C%2FLI%3E%3CLI%3EA%20(multi-line)%20report%20title%20(above%20the%20table).%3C%2FLI%3E%3CLI%3EZero%20or%20more%20annotations%20for%20the%20specific%20report%2C%20some%20of%20which%20may%20include%20data%20that%20is%20pulled%20from%20the%20Oracle%20database.%20These%20will%20appear%20below%20the%20table.%20%3CEM%3EIdeally%2C%20each%20of%20these%20would%20be%20tied%20to%20a%20table%20column%20header%20as%20footnotes.%3C%2FEM%3E%3C%2FLI%3E%3C%2FUL%3E%3C%2FLI%3E%3C%2FUL%3E%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3EMy%20goal%20is%20to%20be%20able%20to%20generate%20a%20single%20PDF%20from%20this%20workbook%20which%3A%3C%2FP%3E%3CUL%3E%3CLI%3EPasses%20all%20accessibility%20checks%20(except%20for%20manual%20check%20of%20reading%20order%20and%20visual%20contrast)%20%3CEM%3Ewithout%20manual%20intervention%3C%2FEM%3E%20(eg%20having%20to%20manually%20correct%20tags%2C%20etc)%3C%2FLI%3E%3CLI%3EReads%20the%20report%20out%20loud%20in%20the%20correct%20order.%3C%2FLI%3E%3CLI%3EIdeally%2C%20will%20recognize%20footnotes%20and%20read%20them%20out%20loud%20in%20conjunction%20with%20the%20table%20column%20header.%3C%2FLI%3E%3C%2FUL%3E%3CP%3EThis%20report%20will%20be%20generated%20on%20an%20annual%20basis%20so%2C%20with%2060%2B%20data%20tables%2C%20I%20want%20to%20eliminate%20as%20much%20manual%20intervention%20as%20possible%2C%20i.e.%2C%20get%20the%20source%20document%20configured%20so%20that%20the%20PDF%20is%20tagged%20correctly.%20If%20there%20needs%20to%20be%20an%20intermediate%20step%20(eg%20importing%20Excel%20tables%20into%20Word%3F)%20I%E2%80%99m%20open%20to%20that%E2%80%A6%20but%20I%20don%E2%80%99t%20know%20if%20there%20would%20be%20any%20benefit%20to%20doing%20it.%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3EPlease%20see%20the%20attached%20spreadsheet%20(one%20simple%20worksheet%20%2F%20report%20%E2%80%93%20no%20database%20functionality)%2C%20the%20corresponding%20PDF%20(generated%20using%20Save%20As%20%2F%20PDF)%20and%202%20screenshots%20showing%20results%20of%20the%20accessibility%20check.%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3EThe%20resulting%20reading%20order%20is%20correct%20(now%20that%20I%E2%80%99ve%20converted%20the%20data%20cells%20to%20a%20table).%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3EHowever%2C%20the%20tags%20for%20the%20table%20title%20and%20all%20of%20the%20annotations%20are%20problematic.%20(The%20PDF%20accessibility%20checker%20generates%20header%20errors).%20I%E2%80%99ve%20tried%20various%20cell%20formats%20for%20both%20the%20table%20title%20cells%20as%20well%20as%20the%20annotation%20cells%20(e.g.%2C%20Header1%20for%20the%20table%20title%20cells)%20but%20the%20results%20are%20the%20same.%20Note%3A%20I%20don%E2%80%99t%20mind%20if%20I%20need%20to%20unmerge%20report%20title%20or%20annotation%20cells%2C%20but%20I%20did%20try%20it%20and%20the%20results%20were%20essentially%20the%20same.%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3EQuestions%3A%3C%2FP%3E%3CUL%3E%3CLI%3E(How)%20can%20I%20format%2Fconfigure%20the%20report%20title%20and%20annotations%20so%20they%E2%80%99re%20tagged%20appropriately%20in%20the%20PDF%3F%20(I%20honestly%20don%E2%80%99t%20care%20what%20the%20tag%20is%20as%20long%20as%20the%20check%20passes%20and%20the%20reading%20order%20is%20correct.)%3C%2FLI%3E%3CLI%3E(How)%20can%20I%20tell%20Excel%20to%20associate%20each%20annotation%20with%20a%20column%20header%20and%20also%20transfer%20that%20information%20to%20the%20PDF%20so%20that%20it%E2%80%99s%20read%20as%20a%20footnote%3F%20I%20know%20it%E2%80%99s%20possible%20to%20programmatically%20set%20a%20cell%E2%80%99s%20comment%20to%20the%20value%20of%20another%20cell%20(eg%20attach%20the%20footnote%20as%20a%20comment%20to%20the%20column%20header)%2C%20but%20I%20don%E2%80%99t%20know%20if%20that%20could%20be%20used%20to%20achieve%20the%20desired%20%E2%80%9Cfootnote%E2%80%9D%20functionality%20in%20the%20PDF.%3C%2FLI%3E%3C%2FUL%3E%3CP%3EReally%20struggling%20to%20come%20up%20with%20the%20most%20automated%20approach%20to%20this%20task...%26nbsp%3B%20Turns%20out%20pulling%20all%20the%20data%20in%20is%20t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Occasional Visitor

Hi – I have some questions about generating accessible (to visually impaired persons) PDFs from Excel files. I have little-to-no expertise in this realm and am not finding much helpful information online.

 

The basic scenario is:

  • A workbook with numerous worksheets (60+), each of which contains a report consisting of:
    • A table that is populated dynamically from an Oracle database (based on an input parameter of year). Each table has column headers across the top, dates along the left side.
    • A (multi-line) report title (above the table).
    • Zero or more annotations for the specific report, some of which may include data that is pulled from the Oracle database. These will appear below the table. Ideally, each of these would be tied to a table column header as footnotes.

 

My goal is to be able to generate a single PDF from this workbook which:

  • Passes all accessibility checks (except for manual check of reading order and visual contrast) without manual intervention (eg having to manually correct tags, etc)
  • Reads the report out loud in the correct order.
  • Ideally, will recognize footnotes and read them out loud in conjunction with the table column header.

This report will be generated on an annual basis so, with 60+ data tables, I want to eliminate as much manual intervention as possible, i.e., get the source document configured so that the PDF is tagged correctly. If there needs to be an intermediate step (eg importing Excel tables into Word?) I’m open to that… but I don’t know if there would be any benefit to doing it.

 

Please see the attached spreadsheet (one simple worksheet / report – no database functionality), the corresponding PDF (generated using Save As / PDF) and 2 screenshots showing results of the accessibility check.

 

The resulting reading order is correct (now that I’ve converted the data cells to a table).

 

However, the tags for the table title and all of the annotations are problematic. (The PDF accessibility checker generates header errors). I’ve tried various cell formats for both the table title cells as well as the annotation cells (e.g., Header1 for the table title cells) but the results are the same. Note: I don’t mind if I need to unmerge report title or annotation cells, but I did try it and the results were essentially the same.

 

Questions:

  • (How) can I format/configure the report title and annotations so they’re tagged appropriately in the PDF? (I honestly don’t care what the tag is as long as the check passes and the reading order is correct.)
  • (How) can I tell Excel to associate each annotation with a column header and also transfer that information to the PDF so that it’s read as a footnote? I know it’s possible to programmatically set a cell’s comment to the value of another cell (eg attach the footnote as a comment to the column header), but I don’t know if that could be used to achieve the desired “footnote” functionality in the PDF.

Really struggling to come up with the most automated approach to this task...  Turns out pulling all the data in is the easy part! But the accessibility stuff is looking to be a bear ...

 

Thanks,

Carol

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