Frequently Asked Questions
The College of The Albemarle (COA) marketing team relies on each department to notify us when their respective web pages require content updates.
Accessibility experts recommend avoiding or minimizing the use of Portable Document Format (PDF) files as a sole source of online information due to the difficulty of making these files accessible to users with disabilities.
Potential Drawbacks of Using PDF Files
- Software requirement and knowledge: If you’re a content creator at COA, you’ll need access to the full version of Adobe Acrobat™ or knowledge of the accessibility tools in programs such as Microsoft Word™
- Accessibility errors: The process of repairing PDF files is time consuming and can lead to inconsistent results; Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), the code developers use to create web pages, is far better for accessibility
- Inaccessible PDF file table formatting: If your table is complex, is missing tags, has improperly nested headings, uses color to convey information, lacks strong color contrast or contains empty cells, you’ll be asked to reformat it using the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) PDF file accessibility checklist
- PDF files don’t appear in a database search: Although Google™ might index a PDF file, the database search feature on our website will only display results from the text of web pages
- Printing inconsistencies: PDF documents are usually formatted to print vertically, but computer monitors generally have a horizontal orientation; this causes users to scroll more, which can be difficult for those with mobility impairments
- Slow PDF file downloads: Slow downloads negatively affect user experience and hurt page load speed when the file is embedded; HTML loads quickly
- Usability problems: The interface between a browser and a PDF file can be inconsistent
- Editing limitations: If your PDF file contains grammatical errors or doesn’t comply with COA’s in-house style guide, you’ll need to fix your file; however, if we publish your information in HTML, we’ll proofread the text, fix broken links and properly format the content for accessibility
- Unless you need a form published on our website, request the creation of a web page instead of posting a PDF file
- If a PDF file is mandatory, be sure it’s accessible by using Adobe’s PDF file accessibility guide and the HHS PDF file accessibility checklist
- If a PDF file includes instructional graphics or images that contain text, type out the content so the data is accessible outside visual aids
- Never use color alone to convey information
- Avoid converting documents with multiple columns or complex tables into a PDF file because screen readers or other text-to-speech technologies may unexpectedly read text across columns and require additional scrolling
How to Clear the Cache
Note: To help protect your privacy and keep your device running quicker (especially if you’re using a shared or public computer), it’s important to regularly clear the cache.
- Select the Chrome menu in the upper right corner
- Select “History”
- Click “Clear browsing data”
- Click the “hamburger” menu and choose “Options”
- Select the “Privacy & Security” panel
- In the “Cookies and Site Data” section, click “Clear Data”
- Select the “Tools” button, point to “Safety” and then select “Delete browsing history”
- Select “Delete”
The alternative solution is to perform a hard reload on the PDF file page.
For details about website accessibility standards, read our statement.
If you submit a PDF file containing a scan, you’ll be asked to convert the content into text. One option is to use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software.