- PDF must never be used instead of HTML web pages
- Large documents and publications can be made available in PDF but must have a suitable summary page with details of how to access this information by other methods.
The use of Portable Document Format (PDF) is welcome where the PDF document provides an adjunct, or an additional feature, for standard HTML web pages.
Large documents for example Council policies, reports, plans, long publications etc can be provided in PDF when a summary web page is provided. The summary page must provide all the main points of the PDF document you are linking to but does not have to be a verbatim copy. When providing documents in this way you must also provide other ways to access the document - the PDF download, a telephone number to contact for large print version, audio tape etc. as detailed in the corporate guidance Access for all.
PDF is a file format that preserves the fonts, formatting, colours, and graphics of a source document, regardless of the application and platform used to create it. You can think of it as an electronic photocopy. Users need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view a PDF document.
Although there are advantages with PDF (the ability to print out faithful copies of paper documents for reading off-line; graphic design tools are able to output PDF), it also has many disadvantages. Major disadvantages are:
If think you have an appropriate reason to use PDF without an HTML alternative this must be approved by the Corporate Webmaster before your pages are live.
Central Office Information guidelines - Delivering inclusive websites
"The presentation of lengthy non-HTML documents on the Web should generally be avoided in favour of web pages"
"The portable document format (PDF) can be accessible if authors follow established best practices to include appropriate structure and equivalents for users with disabilities".
"The Disability Discrimination Act requires public bodies to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people"
Access for all
"In Hampshire we have many residents with different needs so we need to be able to communicate with all members of the public"
W3C WAI Guideline 1
"Provide a text equivalent for every non-text element...this includes images, graphical representations of text, stand-alone audio files, audio tracks of video and video"