What is PDF remediation and why is it important
If your company uses PDF documents regularly, these PDFs must be built in such a way that assistive technologies can interpret and reproduce the content in a useful way, according to Section 508. This requirement allows individuals with disabilities to understand content just as effectively as individuals without disabilities. The process of taking existing PDF documents and turning them into accessible documents is known as PDF remediation.
There are companies that provide PDF remediation services or offer PDF remediation tools that your team can use in-house. In both cases though, the devil is in the details, and not every PDF remediation solution is the same. Face-value decisions can be dangerous since the repercussions of unremediated PDFs can be far-reaching and costly.
Why is finding a reliable PDF remediation provider so hard
The problem of budget and time constraints push providers to cut corners to get things done on time and under budget. This results in PDF remediation services that meet the bare-minimum requirements, usually confirmed by automatic verification tools. However, what tools find as a remediated PDF, in reality, is a PDF remediated to meet these tools’ requirements, not the needs of individuals with disabilities.
In other words, when companies look for a quick and affordable PDF remediation service , the thing that suffers is quality. Low quality PDF remediation services become a minefield in casualties through the form of lawsuits for providing poorly remediated PDF documents.
How to approach the PDF remediation sales conversation with potential providers
Avoid the pitfall of spending a ton of time and money on questionable PDF remediation services by paying close attention to these five test points. Clearly this is not an exhaustive list, but it should give you a good guideline to help you weed out companies that over-promise.
There’s nothing worse than going with a company that trivializes the complexity of your project by bringing up all the issues they claimed were non-issues. By then, you’ve already committed significant resources and going back may not be an option, both time-wise and budget-wise.
We are not criticizing this kind of business model. For some PDF remediation service providers, this is the default mode of work. And for some clients, this is acceptable practice as it cuts plenty of corners and gets the PDF remediation project done faster and cheaper.
But for most of the clients that we’ve worked with, quality of work was critical, and that PDF remediation be done by the book. For government agencies and public organizations such as universities, it doesn’t make much business sense to risk cutting corners with substandard PDF remediation, since some key issues may still lay hidden beneath the surface of auto-generated accessibility tags and automated PDF remediation checkers. This is why we were a good fit.
Let’s see the five key points to keep in mind when you’re looking for a PDF remediation service provider.
Claiming company age or experience as evidence of high quality.
PDF remediation services, unfortunately, become a matter of scale. The more work PDF remediation companies get, the more they rush to finish projects and move on to the next client. However, age and size of the company is not a guarantee of attention to details. In fact, it can be grounds for suspecting that to them, you are just another client who needs to go through their internal processes. In the services sector, you may be better treated and get much higher quality if you work with a smaller PDF remediation provider.
Offering the fastest turnaround possible.
PDF remediation is a laborious process that requires skilled staff and a ridiculous level of attention to detail. Bullet lists, images, graphs, charts and other text formatting details require time to process. Yes, there are tools on the market that do help in speeding things up, but this process is still not fully automated. There are too many document variables for a tool to be able to pre-process the PDF document reliably and consistently. PDF remediation companies that promise fast turnaround will cut corners in the details, and it is these omissions that can get you in trouble. A remediation checker tool may interpret all tags as valid, but when these workers are chasing unrealistic deadlines, the focus is on pleasing the automated checker, not to provide a properly remediated PDF that will be a proper representative of the content when accessed by screen readers.
Claiming proprietary software that provides unbelievable help in PDF remediation.
As we’ve hinted in the previous paragraphs, PDF remediation is too complex of a process to be fully automated. There are tools on the market that do a decent job of recognizing text formatting and these tools can auto-generate most of the tags. But the problem lays in the fact that with various styles of writing and formatting, especially with older documents, these tools usually get things wrong. So, while these tools would provide a technically remediated PDF document, that remediation will be based on assumptions that the software made, which may not be reliable.
Claiming speed of delivery thanks to a large team.
PDF remediation is skilled work, and skilled workers aren’t easy to find. Companies that do employ such experts usually pay a premium. So, the outcome of this skilled work may be fast, but it will certainly not be the cheapest option. The red flags should go up when you are talking to a company that claims expert work for bargain-based prices. In the services world, there are three key components of the deal: time, cost and quality. If you want a fast and affordable service, quality will suffer. If you want an affordable and quality service, time will suffer. And if you want a fast turnaround with high quality, the price will go up. This triangular relationship dictates how companies work, and it’s a signal of how your project would be handled.
Saying “no problem” on any corner-cutting question you throw at them.
In the screening process, when you review different PDF remediation service providers, make sure to bring up some difficult questions. Better yet, get a complex PDF document that you have, and ask the company to walk you through the complexity of the document and give you details about how they would remediate it. Companies that have adopted a quality-first company culture will be slow to jump to conclusions and promise the moon and stars. They will take their time to explain the complexity and explain how and WHY they would remediate certain elements of the document in certain ways. You may ask them if there are ways to cut corners and speed things up. If they say “sure, no problem, we can do XYZ to speed things up”, it’s a good time step back and rethink if this is a company that you want to entrust your PDF remediation project.
As you can see, PDF remediation is a complex topic, and you will have to read between the lines to evaluate which PDF remediation provider to go with. This is big business for PDF remediation companies. It’s also a huge responsibility for organizations to make sure their PDFs are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Failure to comply with Section 508 and ADA requirements can be a costly problem to solve.
This is why smart organizations act proactively and look for PDF remediation before a lawsuit knocks on their door. But finding a PDF remediation company isn’t a simple task. It is understandable that in a competitive landscape, companies will want to promise the moon and stars just to get you as a client. While this is admirable, it is up to you to have a sharp eye and see past the sales presentations and rosy promises.
Some companies will claim they are the best pick because they are in existence for X many years. But we all know that age isn’t a guarantee of attention to details. It’s only proof that the sales department and remediation teams can pump out projects profitably.
Some companies will claim people, processes or technology as the competitive edge. While this would be a very solid candidate, keep in mind that with services, you get what you pay for. Speed and affordability will always mean higher prices. On the other hand, speed, quality and low cost will be indicative of a sketchy offer, and you may not want to risk doing business with such a deal.
If you are proactively looking for a PDF remediation service and your primary concern is quality, Armedia may be a good fit for you. We have a dedicated task force of expert PDF remediators that can tackle any PDF remediation project, no matter how complex the PDFs are.
Feel free to reach out to us for a free PDF remediation consult, no strings attached.
The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed many changes in our everyday lives. We have spent more and more time on the Internet becoming increasingly aware of what digital presence means and how important it is to be able to do your business online without any obstacles. This pandemic has revealed that many websites are created to enable access to the average user, but not so much when it comes to users with certain disabilities.
Over 48 million individuals in the United States have hearing problems, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center together with the New Hampshire University published the results from their study in 2019 saying that seven million individuals in the country have a vision disability. Over 61 million individuals in the U.S. have some form of disability. So, offering a website that is fully accessible increases the number of visitors and provides value for the entire audience.
Creating a website that is accessible isn’t just about increasing a company’s visibility and audience. Companies can face legal consequences if they don’t comply with legislation that ensures equal access for everyone. The number of lawsuits against organizations over digital accessibility for individuals with disabilities is on the rise. Compared to the previous year with the first half of 2021, there is an increase of 64% in lawsuits alleging that websites, digital videos, and applications are inaccessible for individuals with different disabilities. A report from UsableNet.Inc predicts over 4,000 lawsuits for 2021. An evaluation done of the accessibility of homepages on the world’s top million websites showed that 97% of websites had accessibility issues. Luckily, there are strictly defined requirements that help companies increase their website’s accessibility.
Web accessibility is governed by several civic and federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 508, and guidelines from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
What does 508 compliance mean?
In 1998, an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was made and titled Section 508. This act prohibits discrimination based on disability, while Section 508 extends this to electronic information federal agencies offer to the public. The idea was to eliminate the barriers individuals with disabilities might have in information technology and ensure equal access to information despite differences in abilities. Even though Section 508 was designed to govern website accessibility within the federal sector, it is now widely accepted that organizations that receive certain forms of government funding or cooperation with the government should comply with this law.
So, 508 compliance means that all the information and components of the website are easily accessible to individuals with disabilities.
What does WCAG 2.1 mean?
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1) were developed from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to help organizations increase their web accessibility and are used as recommendations for web designers. These standards are regarded as the best means to make a website accessible. Three different levels of guidelines are developed upon the four principles of web accessibility. These guidelines ensure that a website is perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust
Top 10 Requirements for Building an Accessible Website
Web accessibility involves a wide range of disabilities, such as: visual, auditory, speech, physical, neurological, cognitive, learning and language disabilities. Although the following requirements should meet and address most of the issues with accessibility, building a fully accessible website for all types and degrees of disabilities is almost impossible. However, building web content according to the following requirements will make the website more user-friendly for the general public.
- Always provide text alternative to non-text content.
Adding captions to video and audio content make it understandable for individuals with hearing impairments. This also makes it more user-friendly by allowing the user to access these types of files even in quiet places or in loud environments. Providing captions for live videos and audio descriptions for video content achieves the next level of website accessibility.
Image from https://www.techsmith.com/blog/add-captions-subtitles-video/
- Add alternative image text for individuals with visual disabilities.
Providing a text description for an image or video provides context to images and videos for users that can’t see. These texts need to be accurate and descriptive, as well as readable, so that they can be read from the screen by software.
- Use sufficient contrast between text and the background in order to make navigation, reading and interaction easier for users.
This requirement doesn’t apply to just text and images, but also to links, buttons and icons. It is very important to use good colors as well as to ensure proper color allocation in order to make the content clear and understandable for users with low contrast sensitivity and readable for individuals with visual impairments. According to WCAG guidelines, a website will be more accessible if visuals on the site do not rely only on color. By solely relying on color, the content would be completely inaccessible for colorblind individuals.
- Enable the use of Text-to-speech technology.
Text-to-speech technology has been around for many years and has helped the blind have access to computers and online content. It is also important for individuals with dyslexia and individuals who have difficulties reading. Creating properly tagged content on websites helps these text-to-speech engines interpret and read out the text so that individuals can better understand what is written on that page.
- Adding a voice recognition feature.
This will make websites easier to browse for individuals who can’t use a keyboard or mouse. Individuals with temporary injuries or physical disabilities sometimes rely solely on voice recognition. Voice recognition can be used to navigate online, write messages, place orders, etc.
- Improve your UX design to ensure simpler navigation as well as a better user experience.
Logical order in the presentation of the content and a simple structure can be accomplished through consistent styling, clear headings, and navigation bars. Complex layouts can be confusing for individuals with cognitive and learning disabilities and for those with visual impairments.
- Provide a way to change the size of size for clickable elements.
Being able to change the size of the buttons, controls, and links on the website can provide easier access to the site content. Individuals with tremor or reduced dexterity could have problems hitting the right button if it is too small. The customizable text helps make the web content more accessible. Users can change the size, font, spacing, and color of the text without losing function or clarity and thereby making it more readable.
- Allow enough time for users by providing user control for time limits.
When a timed response is required, include an option for a user to be able to request more time that will be sufficient for them. There are different types of solutions that can be incorporated into the coding phase of web design.
- Provide keyboard-accessible content or allow the possibility for users to navigate the website only through their keyboard.
Individuals with certain disabilities must have keyboard access to the website. The Skip Navigation feature allows keyboard users to effectively skip repetitive content while navigating the website.
image from https://www.w3.org/WAI/perspective-videos/img/keyboard.jpg
- Permit proper feedback and input assistance.
The website’s design should allow clear identification of input errors that give clear and understandable instructions on how to fix an error. Properly labeling the elements of the input can make management of sensitive data better, especially when mistakes are made. When providing feedback on input and instructions on input errors avoid using a complex vocabulary.
There are different software solutions on the market or free sites that allow testing the website for accessibility.
Even though a company may not be legally required to be 508 compliant, making internet services and web content accessible for individuals with disabilities will increase your audience and make your website more attractive on the market.
In addition, being able to provide understandable content for individuals with disabilities helps build a society that is more inclusive. Providing equal access means providing equal opportunities for everyone.
Sources used in this article:
Guest post written by Astrid Sutton
In this digital era, technology is constantly evolving. Workplaces have gone from pen-and-paper case management processes to advanced computer-based systems. Today, the market for case management software continues to grow. Findings by Reportlinker show that it’s expected to grow to $7.6 billion by the end of 2025. And recent technological innovations have only enhanced it further. In particular, big data systems are expanding the ways case management software can expedite tasks and processes.
How Does Big Data Assist in Case Management?
As the name implies, big data refers to huge amounts of data — not just gigabytes and terabytes, but petabytes (1,024 terabytes) or even exabytes (1,024 petabytes). With advanced data collection and management systems, organizations can gather vast quantities of data and synthesize them into valuable insights. These insights can then be used to make better decisions for every stage of the case management process.
For instance, case management in the healthcare sector involves the collaborative process of assessing patients, planning and implementing treatments, then facilitating them afterward. Because healthcare is taking on a more patient-centered approach, it will require more data to inform its decisions. Big data systems, then, can assist in the case management of individual patients by storing and analyzing their unique medical background, their needs, and their preferences. Generalizing the gathered data into reports will grant medical professionals valuable knowledge on how to provide the best type of care to patients.
However, with a growing reliance on valuable data comes the need to secure it. The rapid promulgation of cybersecurity systems comes as no surprise. With about 4.1 million data records compromised in the first six months of 2019, organizations across the country scrambled to put up more robust data protection measures. Luckily, big data has a part to play in cybersecurity too.
How Does Big Data Assist in Data Security?
Security big data analytics is a tool that organizations can use to gather and analyze data about internal systems. It makes use of artificial intelligence, particularly machine learning and deep learning capabilities, to process the data and pinpoint patterns that could indicate a cyber threat. Because it’s able to pick up on patterns, it can guard against a myriad of cyber threats, such as data theft, ransomware, and attacks on the server. Security big data analytics also has a greater capacity compared to traditional cybersecurity software, making it a robust data security option.
The need for heightened security measures is also changing the way data analytics is being taught. This is why those who have a degree in data analytics will not only be trained in areas such as forecasting and predictive modeling, but also key data principles when it comes to security. Today data security is just as important as data collection, which is why security is a key part of any education and learning related to big data.
Data is the life blood of business. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the analytics technology and solutions market have a compound annual growth rate of 13.2% through 2022. And with more industries investing in big data solutions, the job outlook for data professionals is ideal. Among these industries are that of banking, manufacturing, and the governmental sector — all of which make use of meticulous case management processes.
Case management on its own already provides multiple benefits, from improved manageability to better insights. But paired with big data, this process is set to expand its reach, and produce even more data-driven insights.
Guest post written by Astrid Sutton
GSA Awards Armedia a Spot on $50B STARS III Contract
VIENNA, Va, June 29, 2021—Armedia, through its Hartwood–Armedia Joint Venture with Hartwood Consulting Group, was selected by the General Services Administration (GSA) for a spot on its $50 billion STARS III contract. The governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC) is a best-in-class, easy-to-use contract that allows agencies to procure IT from pre-vetted prime contractors. The STARS III contract is expected to focus on emerging technologies and technologies outside of the continental United States, in addition to a full range of Information Technology services.
“We are excited to partner with our protégé, Hartwood Consulting Group, on the STARS III GWAC. This gives us another Best in Class vehicle on which we can service our current and future clients, while continuing to strengthen the relationship with our Protege. The combination of Armedia and Hartwood offers a unique mix of technical excellence and responsive PMO support geared toward both Federal Civilian and DoD agencies,” stated Jan Coley, Vice President of Business Development at Armedia.
Hartwood-Armedia Joint Venture (HAJV)
Hartwood-Armedia Joint Venture (HAJV), an SBA approved 8(a) and SDVOSB JV combines two companies that are complementary in capabilities, culture and vision. Our federal clients require a partner who understands the technological landscape and has proven past performance supporting application sustainment and platform operations and maintenance within that environment. Our mission of supporting our clients in transforming their operations through management of data, process improvement and seamless integration through the use of innovation has been proven to be successful with the USDA, Department of Defense, US Senate, Internal Revenue Service, as well as the US Marine Corps. Learn more at www.h-ajvll.com.
Hartwood Consulting Group, a VA-certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) and an 8(a) firm, helps government organizational experts understand their services and systems better. Hartwood offers an accomplished range of professional and technical capabilities in collaborative support with the government. This includes all aspects of system augmentation, configuration, assessment and support for the RD applications and databases. Hartwood personnel have combined to provide 100+ “rapid application development” solutions, incorporating modified approaches of Agile, spiral and waterfall methodology for the USMC HQMC. Learn more at http://www.hartwoodcg.com/.
Armedia, LLC is a Veteran Owned Small Business and a long-term solution provider to the US Federal Government. Founded in 2002, Armedia is a technology advisory firm, focused on assisting organizations build the systems and the cultures necessary to manage and harness their data. We provide the expertise in process improvement and how to support that improvement through quality solutions and effective change management. In addition, we also provide expertise and services in content intelligence, big data analytics, Agile software development, and open source and mobile technologies. Appraised at CMMI Dev Level 3 and ISO 9001:2015 certified, Armedia brings rigorous process discipline to all projects. In addition, Armedia holds a TS facilities clearance.
Procurement practices using vendor lock-in technologies may thwart the ability to change with mission objectives and cost-efficiency of IT modernization initiatives, resulting in slowing the government agencies’ ability to face new challenges. Fueled by misconceptions, open-source solutions used to be overlooked as viable alternatives to proprietary software within large enterprises. With the successes of Linux, Java, Apache, ArkCase, Drupal, WordPress, Alfresco, Nuxeo, and many others, open-source technologies have proven to be secure, cost-effective and scalable alternatives for enterprises looking to modernize their systems.
The agency conundrum: Do more and spend less
The growing workload of many agencies rests on outdated, proprietary IT systems that are not flexible enough to respond to new opportunities and challenges. Whether it’s functionality limitations, compute limitations, or the inability to harden against cyber threats, the solutions of yesteryear are the challenges of today that prevent agencies from future-proofing.
To add to the difficulty, cost is always a key ingredient in any agency procurement process. Since public funds means public responsibility, agencies face the challenge of maximizing their IT investments
The budgetary weight of vendor lock-in fueled by open source myths
There may be multiple valid reasons why an organization would select a proprietary software over open-source software, but one of the most persistent myths surrounding open-source software is security. The argument for increased vulnerabilities in open-source software may have been some merit for solutions that are in grassroots stages or no longer supported by the community. However for actively supported software, these security vulnerabilities are quickly identified and solved, precisely because the source code is public and everybody can contribute. In this regard, a community of developers can grow and strengthen an open source software much faster than a company with limited resources.
Mostly because of a wide user base and usually large support communities, open source solutions tend to grow faster. This growth can be in:
- Versatility, by attracting more solution providers who build their add-ons for specific or core functionality improvements.
- Code quality, thanks to different contributors collaborating on code sections, leveraging years of experience by developers from different industries and walks of life.
- Security, because of vigilant peer review surrounding new updates, new features, code refactoring etc.
This is not to say that open source solutions are by default the better choice in every use case. Organizations will still want to do their due diligence in knowing who the contributors/developers of that software are, what was done with the code, how the software evolved, and what is the rate of response from the community.
Open source is the new normal
In 2016, the White House initiative to promote open source resulted in a growing repository of code that is developed by, or for government agencies. This formidable index of projects that are completely open source is an excellent resource for developing cost-effective solutions.
The private sector has not been idle either. Large companies are becoming leaders in open source projects. Open source solutions offer agencies reliable platforms that allow for interconnectivity and compatibility to new AI/ML solutions while making those business solutions more streamlined, says Christine Cox, regional vice president federal sales for SUSE.
The global phenomenon of acceptance toward open source has grown significantly. Most of the governments in the world have opened up to the open source software initiative.
Open source brings connectivity, flexibility and cost-efficiency
Using open source technologies allows agencies increased interconnectivity, safely and reliably bringing secure data across multiple cloud environments. This helps agencies to automate repetitive data processing and management tasks, streamline business processes, and cut costs at the same time.
By using open source front and center, agencies benefit on several levels:
- Lower IT expenses: when using open source software as a base, any company can provide upgrade and maintenance services. This opens up the gates for competitive bidding, helping agencies in reducing costs of ownership and maintenance compared to proprietary solutions.
- Lower risk of ownership: unlike proprietary software where an agency completely depends on the current vendor, using open source relieves this risk. If an agency is not pleased with the support from the original vendor, they can opt for a different vendor that can support that open source solution.
- No user count constraints: while most proprietary solution providers impose contractual constraints on the number of users, open-source software solution providers do not normally practice this. This means that agencies can open up access to the solution as needed without facing additional licensing costs.
- Mutualization: by using open source solutions, agencies can leverage the large repository of already developed components and solutions used in other agencies. This standardization of features helps all agencies get better solutions without duplicating development work.
- Agile security: proprietary software code is owned and accessed only by the company that built it. If hackers find a vulnerability, agencies are left to the vendor’s capacity to detect, identify and remedy the situation. With open source software, this limitation is not an issue. Agencies that have heard of a vulnerability that a vendor cannot remedy, are free to get other subject matter experts and resolve the problem faster.
These are just several of the benefits that agencies gain by using open source software. Tapping into the large repository of already built software used by other agencies, combined with the flexibility of companies that provide support and maintenance, puts agencies in a liberating position, both contractually and budget-wise.
How will your organization benefit from open source solutions?
Ultimately, all this translates into improved lives of taxpayers who enjoy better service, thanks to superior software solutions maintained by agile companies, who won a bid based on quality, reliability and cost.
If your organization is considering an IT Modernization initiative, we’d love to hear from you. Our staff is ready to hop on a non-obligatory call to discuss your business needs and solutions to capitalize on these opportunities.