Gaming to the Rescue for PDF Tagging

Have you been told that you must make a PDF document accessible? Assuming that you are either an old hand at this process or have now learned what it means for a PDF to be accessible, you now face the task of actually doing the tags work in Acrobat. If you have done this before with any PDF of more than a few pages you know that it involves developing a process and then settling in for a fun time of clicking, typing, and dragging. If this is your first time, you will soon become a pro at the mechanics of the work and will perhaps rub your wrists as you contemplate the repetitiveness of it all.

We have certainly been there and we can empathize! Once you are clear about what to do and how best to do it, the tasks are not difficult but they can be time consuming. Any time that you do repetitive tasks you increase the risk of slips, typos, and dropping dragged items in the wrong place. All are simple to fix but they add time. We wondered if there was anything we could do to reduce the number of keystrokes and mouse clicks, and to reduce this chance of error.

Gamers have similar problems, we realized, and after all, who wouldn’t want to make this more like a game? They have repetitive tasks often comprised of numerous key sequences. Their solution, which we enthusiastically adopted, was to use macro keyboards. Sure, there are programs that can record key sequences but we liked the simplicity of having the macros contained within the keyboard driver and the tactile approach of having extra physical keys.


There are a number of devices available but we settled on the Logitech G510 and G13 keyboards. They work in Windows and Mac OS, are similar in operation, and can share macros.

The G510 offers 18 keys, each of which can be assigned to a single keystroke, a specific application, or as we did, a series of keystrokes. The arrangement of 3 groups of 6 keys makes it easy to arrange keys by related purpose. But wait, there’s more! You also get 3 modes, selectable by buttons over the keys. You can select a color for each mode, which changes the color of all keys on the keyboard and the LCD display. For example, the red M1 mode could be for changing tags (P to H1) or “artifacting” tags, while the blue M2 could be for lists and Touchup Reading Order screen tagging, and the green M3 could be for tables and miscellaneous tasks.

The macros are stored in a profile, each of which can easily be associated with a program (just start the program and, essentially, tell the keyboard, “this one”). When that program becomes active, the keyboard activates its profile and displays the name on the LCD.

Go for it!

Keyboard macros, even done on a small scale, are easy to create and can save you time plus wear and tear on your hands. Experiment and have some fun with it!

Categories: World of Accessibility