[Irl-dean] Accessibility of PDF Format Resources?

Joshue O Connor joshue.oconnor at ncbi.ie
Mon Nov 20 12:05:00 GMT 2006

Hi Brendan,

> Do CFIT or any other organisations/companies provide training in
> producing accessible PDFs or is your stance to not use them? 

CFIT can provide training for the creation of accessible PDFs but I am
unsure of if we should.
There are some situations where I think its a good idea (some
organisational training to key staff etc) but I do feel that there is
also a burden of responsibility on content authors to educate themselves.

I don't wish that to sound very blunt - but it brings up a question of
where within the content creation chain
does the responsibility for accessibility lie? Is it with the content
authors or say the graphic designers (if PDF design is outsourced, which
can be the case). I would suggest if content authors created structured
documents, by default, that can make the process easier.

>> 1. it is possible

Yes, to create a *more* accessible PDF but as mentioned in the last
post(s) many users could still be locked out, so also providing an
accessible (X)HTML document is the way to go.

>> 2. it is as not just a case of describing the images etc

Think of the PDF document in the same way as you would when marking up a
HTML doc. You structure the content, mark up tabular data, provide
alternate descriptions of important images etc. The principle is exactly
the same. The big difference is that you are limited to several Adobe
products to create the accessible PDF, whereas you can mark up HTML etc
with free software that comes bundled with your OS (Notepad etc). Most
of the programs that you can use to create tagged PDFs are Adobe
products (and Acrobat Professional is expensive).

There is an option to create tagged PDFs with the free open source Open
Office 2.0 [1], and it is quite good. If you create a structured MS Word
document you can export it as a tagged PDF. The structure is maintained
and the screen readers that support tagged PDFs can access the content
quite well. For more complex content (tables and forms) Acrobat Pro
would be needed, though Open Office does
give you the option of exporting embedded forms as HTML or XML.

Barry said:

> i.e., it is neither much harder *nor* much easier to do
> "accessible PDF".  

> it is really much
> of a muchness: the essential task is the same regardless of which
> output format is targetted.  

I agree.

Eoin said:

>  if you are using Microsoft Word.
> For a standard report consisting mainly of text, with a few tables and images,
> it is quite straightforward for anyone with some DTP skills to create an accessible PDF version  

In principle you are right, but you are making an assumption of ability
on the part of the author that they just may not have. In fact I would
argue that the creation of *any* accessible content is often relatively
simple and straightforward, *when you know how*.

These topics may be easy for you or I, with years of experience, but
many just don't have a high degree of fluency with the technology itself
or understand the *why* behind the method.



brendan spillane wrote:
> Hi there,
> First off well done Barry, I gave it one read through but I am going
> to have to go back over it again before I can comment on it either
> effectively or informatively.
> The one thing that did come out at me and is one of the things I
> always tell me self I will do some research on is how accessible are
> accessible PDF?
> Barry wrote
>> It is possible, in principle, for authors and publishers to produce
>> so-called "accessible >PDF"...
> 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?
> Best,
> Brendan
> On 17/11/06, Barry McMullin <mcmullin at eeng.dcu.ie> wrote:
>> On Thu, 16 Nov 2006, Joshue O Connor wrote:
>> [...]
>> > Couldn't agree more. And I would add to that by saying; Even if an
>> > author creates an all singing all dancing 'accessible' PDF they *still*
>> > should produce an accessible (X)HTML/CSS version of the document.
>> Hi Josh -
>> Thanks for the comments. On this final recommendation, I do agree
>> with what you suggest, and it is at least implicit in the way I
>> expressed the recommendation; but I'll look at possibly making it
>> even more explicit!
>> Best - Barry.
>> _______________________________________________
>> Irl-dean mailing list
>> Irl-dean at list.eeng.dcu.ie
>> http://list.eeng.dcu.ie/mailman/listinfo/irl-dean


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