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Matterhorn Protocol: PDF Accessibility Made Easier


Welcome to the world of PDF accessibility, where making documents accessible to everyone is a piece of cake, thanks to the Matterhorn Protocol. In this article, we’ll simplify the Matterhorn Protocol, exploring its origins and why it’s essential for creating accessible PDFs.

Meet the Matterhorn Protocol

Imagine the Matterhorn Protocol as your trusty checklist for PDF documents. It’s like a magic wand that ensures your PDFs are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. Forget the tech jargon; it takes the complicated ISO 14289 standard and simplifies it into a user-friendly guide.

The Birth of Matterhorn

In 2012, the PDF/UA standard set the stage for accessible documents. But it needed a sidekick, and that’s where the Matterhorn Protocol came in, born in 2013. It wasn’t just for software pros but for anyone wanting to make documents accessible. It took theory and turned it into practice, making PDF/UA easy to understand.

A Closer Look

The Matterhorn Protocol is your handy-dandy checklist. It breaks down into 31 sections and 136 items to check. No need to be overwhelmed; it’s all about ensuring your document’s roles are right and that the metadata is accurate. Here’s the catch: 89 of these checks can be automated by software, while 47 need a human touch. Simple, right?

Why Matterhorn Still Matters

Fast forward a decade, and the Matterhorn Protocol is still a big deal. It’s used daily by countless computers running the PAC (PDF Accessibility Checker) and similar tools. Even if you don’t see it in action, it’s the backbone of thorough PDF/UA evaluations.

Web Accessibility Basics

Before diving deeper, let’s understand web accessibility. It’s about making websites and their documents user-friendly for everyone, including those with disabilities. No rocket science here; it’s all about ensuring everyone can access digital information.

The Lowdown on PDF/UA

PDF/UA isn’t just a fancy stamp; it’s a set of guidelines that scream, “This document is accessible!” While software can add the stamp, it takes a human with accessibility knowledge to ensure the document truly meets accessibility standards. The Matterhorn Protocol helps us distinguish between what machines can do and what requires human expertise.

Enter the Matterhorn Protocol

The Matterhorn Protocol is your guide to achieving PDF/UA greatness. It’s a list of criteria your document must meet to earn that PDF/UA stamp. It divides tasks into two categories: those machines can handle and those requiring human expertise. With 31 checkpoints and 136 potential pitfalls, it’s your roadmap to PDF accessibility.

Getting It Right

PDF/UA is like a superhero cape for your documents, ensuring everyone can access them. But here’s the deal: we must use it correctly. Let’s all play our part in maintaining and ensuring the PDF/UA stamp’s value. Lowering the bar only hurts accessibility, and that’s not what we want!


The purpose of this article, was to simplify the Matterhorn Protocol, exploring its origins and why it’s essential for creating accessible PDFs. Congratulations, you’re on your way to becoming a Matterhorn Protocol pro! You understand how this simple checklist makes PDFs accessible to all. Keep creating inclusive documents and making the digital world a better place for everyone.

Would you like to know more?

CDP Communications Inc. provides software that creates compliant, Universal Accessible documents, enables print data stream transformations, secures the archival/retrieval of print documents, and compares print data stream files, in a fraction of the time that a manual process would take.

CDP has specialized in developing software solutions for Independent Software Vendors, Original Equipment Manufacturers, Service Bureaus, and Developers since 1984 and it has continually evolved its software and added to its catalogue to support the ever-increasing demands for printing and information solutions. Need software to remediate documents or ensure accessibility and compliance from creation? We’ve got your back there too!

Many of the biggest companies across numerous industries trust CDP’s solutions. Since 1984 we’ve been leaders in the technology and toolsets that drive winning approaches, saving time, money, and effort. Not to mention promoting reliable accuracy and compliance.

Would you like to learn more about how to use automation to easily and efficiently create PDF/UA? Contact us directly at

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