Fan of creative technology, elearning, instructional design and a little geeky

Figures in InDesign CS5.5 and Accessibility

After reading David’s blog-post on InDesign Secrets, titled “Building an Org Chart or Flowchart in InDesign“.  I thought… “How does building illustrations in InDesign impact the development of Accessible PDF with InDesign CS5.5?”

InDesign CS5.5 introduced significant new features for EPUB/HTML and PDF export. Building Accessible PDFs is now much, MUCH easier… It’s not yet perfect and we’ll still need to do some extra work in Adobe Acrobat X, but overall the delivery of an Accessible PDF is a lot less time-consuming than it would have been in working in InDesign CS5.

So I spend a few minutes testing what happens with figures created in InDesign CS5.5 (7.5.2) when we are building Accessible PDFs. In all cases Object Export Options was set to Apply Tag Based On Object, and Alt Text Source set to Custom (in Alt Text and Tagged PDF tab), and ensured ‘Create Tagged PDF‘ option was selected during PDF Export.

Object Export Options dialog in InDesign, with Tagged PDF settings displayed.

Below are this morning’s findings.

Test 1 – Original InDesign Artwork

Building a chart in InDesign, and Grouping the artwork together.

  • Grouped InDesign charts that are NOT inline or anchored do not turn into Figures on PDF export.
  • Inline/Anchored grouped InDesign charts do turn into figures, but loose the Alt Text allocated to them through the Object Export Options dialog.

Test 2 – Placed InDesign Artwork

So then I thought I’d be clever and build the InDesign chart in a separate InDesign document, and place this into the InDesign file that’s turned into an Accessible PDF:

  • Placed InDesign artwork that is NOT inline or anchored, seems to be ignored
  • Inline/Anchored grouped InDesign charts do turn into Figures, but loose the Alt Text allocated to them through the Object Export Options dialog.

Test 3 – Placed Illustrator Artwork

I then rebuild the InDesign chart in Illustrator and ran same three scenarios (independently placed, inline and anchored).

  • Placed Illustrator artwork does convert to a Figure in the resulting PDF and retains its Alt Text
  • Inline/Anchored Illustrator artwork also turns into Figures and retains the Alt Text.

In Summary, using InDesign artwork for diagrams/charts presently means extra work in Acrobat X to ensure the PDFs generated from the InDesign file are Accessible.

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