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[Irl-dean] Accessibility of PDF Format Resources?

Joshue O Connor joshue.oconnor at ncbi.ie
Mon Nov 20 12:33:02 GMT 2006


Eoin,

> For brochure-type material, with lots of graphics, non-standard layouts, etc.,
> creating an accessible PDF is quite difficult though. 

I agree, and this is where an accessible (X)HTML version is needed.

> Here are the advantages of accessible PDF documents over their HTML equivalent,
> in particular for longer reports:

> - Easier navigation: a  PDF document is much easier to navigate 

For whom? What about legacy screen reader users? Or people with
cognitive disabilities who could have great difficulty getting to grips
with the PDF bookmark mechanism? How is this an advantage over
accessible HTML?

> - 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. 

A search mechanism in an indexed website can allow the user to choose if
they search the page or the entire site so how does PDF offer an
advantage? How is it faster or easier to use?

A long report in multiple HTML pages is
>   very difficult to download as a self-contained package. 

Thats true - I can see some advantage there.

> - Easier printing: It is easier to print a single PDF document than multiple HTML pages, and it
>  prints on much fewer pages (in general).

Absolutely, and this is where PDF shines, as a platform independent
*printing* format.

But I can't agree that PDF has an *advantage* over accessible HTML,
maybe to some users, but not to those with disabilities. Even though the
problems of screen reader users being blocked out when PDF security
features are enabled, have been fixed [1] and there *have* been huge
leaps in PDF accessibility, I am very concerned about legacy screen
reader users and there is still a much larger skills overhead needed to
create accessible PDF.

> 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. 

I'm with you on that one :)

[1] http://www.it-analysis.com/content.php?articleid=12972

Josh







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