[Irl-dean] Accessibility of PDF Format Resources?

Eoin Campbell ecampbell at xmlw.ie
Mon Nov 20 11:23:18 GMT 2006

There are a number of PDF accessibility resources online,
and  we have collected some links at

I don't really agree with Josh regarding the difficulty of preparing
accessible PDFs, if you are using Microsoft Word.
For a standard report consisting mainly of text, with a few tables and 
it is quite straightforward for anyone with some DTP skills to create
an accessible PDF version using Word and the PDFWriter plug-in
of Adobe Acrobat. Julian Rickard has a tutorial on how to do so.

It is almost impossible to create an accessible PDF from QuarkXPress,
but much easier with Adobe InDesign.
For brochure-type material, with lots of graphics, non-standard layouts, 
creating an accessible PDF is quite difficult though.

I also would disagree with Barrys statement:
"Further, given the nature of the work involved in making documents 
it seems that PDF publication has no particular advantage, in this regard,
over X/HTML+CSS publication."

Here are the advantages of accessible PDF documents over their HTML 
in particular for longer reports:
- Easier navigation: a  PDF document is much easier to navigate
  via the auotmatically-created PDF bookmark mechanism, unless a 
considerable effort
  is made to include document-specific
 document-specific navigation in the HTML version.
- Easier searching: it is much easier to search a PDF document for a 
particular term and get
   a set of results limited to the document itself. If a long report is 
a single HTML page, browsers
   offer a limited in-page search. If it is split into multiple pages, 
it is difficult to limit the search to
   a particular document.
- Easier downloading for offline electronic reading: A single PDF is a 
convenient container for
  downloading a report to read and navigate offline. A long report in 
multiple HTML pages is
   very difficult to download as a self-contained package.
- Easier printing: It is easier to print a single PDF document than 
multiple HTML pages, and it
  prints on much fewer pages (in general).

So in my view, a report in HTML format _should also_ be made available 
in accessible PDF
format, so that readers can benefit from the many advantages PDF offers 
to people with or
without disabilities.

brendan spillane wrote:
> Josh wrote
>> It requires significant, and appropriately skilled, manual effort to
>> Prepare documents in this way
> From this I understand that
> 1. it is possible
> 2. it is as not just a case of describing the images etc
> On a day to day basis I meet website administrators who use PDFs on
> their website and in some cases they are reluctant to begin producing
> these documents in an accessible format either because "this is the
> way we ahev always done it" or because they just see the extra
> production time etc.
> Do CFIT or any other organisations/companies provide training in
> producing accessible PDFs or is your stance to not use them?

Eoin Campbell, Technical Director, XML Workshop Ltd.
10 Greenmount Industrial Estate, Harolds Cross, Dublin, Ireland.
Phone: +353 1 4547811; fax: +353 1 4496299.
Email: ecampbell at xmlw.ie; web: www.xmlw.ie
YAWC: One-click web publishing from Word!
YAWC Online: www.yawconline.com

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