College - Author 1
College of Architecture and Environmental Design
Department - Author 1
City and Regional Planning Department
Degree Name - Author 1
BS in City and Regional Planning
Michael R. Boswell, College of Architecture and Environmental Design, City and Regional Planning Department
A survey was sent to 517 planning and community development departments across California inquiring about how they use interactive PDF files for forms and applications. 139 cities and counties responded, providing invaluable feedback, with 98% stating that their online forms and applications are in PDF format, 62% confirmed that some or all their PDF's are interactive, and over 72% retype the information in the completed PDF forms they receive in a database or spreadsheet program. Why retype data that has already been typed into an interactive PDF in order to enter it into their tracking systems?
Based on the survey results, chapters in this project were devised to provide background, research, and methods related to interactive PDF files. Various sections covered PDF form field types, defining fields that calculate, constraining answer fields to only accept numeric values, and adding actionable buttons to PDF forms. Live interactive PDF sample fields and forms are provided as well.
Another issue planning and community development departments indicated was low awareness of accessibility requirements for interactive PDF files as defined by section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and ADA standards for government websites. All PDF files contain additional features and functions to provide accessibility for users that need screen readers, screen magnifiers, read outloud, speech-to-text, navigation without the use of a mouse, Braille displays, support for the color blind, and more. An example of how to prepare a PDF and run a compatibility check using Adobe Acrobat software is also provided.
Based on the survey findings and research, the project provides three detailed recommendations on how planning and community development departments in California could improve the utility of their PDF files, intake processing workflows, and mitigate accessibility standards for ADA and section 508 requirements.
Live interactive PDF sample fields and forms are provided in this project and are available when viewing this PDF file electronically.