[Irl-dean] Accessibility of PDF Format Resources?

brendan spillane brendan at ilikecake.net
Mon Nov 20 15:27:10 GMT 2006

God (which ever one) my spelling is terrible.

I wrote

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

>>this is the way we ahev always done it" <blush furiously>

>>I always tell me self I will do some research  <blush furiously....
memories of being 13 again>

I must apologise for this public destruction of a language.


On 20/11/06, Barry McMullin <mcmullin at eeng.dcu.ie> wrote:
> On Sat, 18 Nov 2006, brendan spillane wrote:
> > 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?
> [...]
> > >From this I understand that
> >
> > 1. it is possible
> > 2. it is as not just a case of describing the images etc
> Thanks to Brendan (and Josh, again) for their comments.
> To be clear, I am suggesting that the work (and cost) in making a
> typical document "accessible" is essentially independent of
> whether this is "accessible PDF" or "accessible X/HTML+CSS" -
> i.e., it is neither much harder *nor* much easier to do
> "accessible PDF".  This was my core point, because many people
> seem to have the idea that because producing "presentational
> PDF" is so very easy, then producing "accessible PDF" is probably
> easy as well - or, at least, easier that than horrible
> complicated X/HTML thing; whereas I want to say it is really much
> of a muchness: the essential task is the same regardless of which
> output format is targetted.  And that being the case, there are
> some reasons for actually *preferring* "accessible X/HTML+CSS"
> over "accessible PDF" (although either is, or course, vastly
> superior to the typical inaccessible dross that is currently
> pervading the web, in both HTML and PDF formats...).
> I have now attempted to make this more explicit in a revision of
> my "summary recommendation" section.  Admittedly this makes it
> rather less "summary", but hopefully a bit more clear...
> > 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.
> Yes indeed: but this is precisely a "culture switch" we have to
> work and argue for.
> Certainly, for most Irish public sector bodies, we need to be
> working on bringing them around to the understanding that this is
> no longer an "optional extra".  As usual, I'm not a lawyer and
> this is not legal advice, but certainly that would be my
> understanding of the Disability Act 2005, as elaborated in the
> recent NDA Code of Practice.  So it should no longer be a
> question of *whether* to make documents accessible, but simply
> the detail of whether the "accessible" format should then be HTML
> or PDF.  The danger is that, simply because both clients and
> agencies are familiar with the ease of generating (inaccessible)
> PDF, they will now default to trying to generate "accessible" PDF
> as their "standard" approach.  Of course, this would still
> absolutely be a giant leap forward over the current situation,
> but I'd like to encourage organisations to just reflect a
> *little* bit more carefully and realise that, for just the same
> effort, they can target accessible HTML, which is an even better
> option from the accessibility point of view in most cases that I
> have come across (while still retaining the PDF version - whether
> "accessible" or not! - but just to facilitate those people who
> actually *want* a "print-oriented" option).
> > Do CFIT or any other organisations/companies provide training in
> > producing accessible PDFs or is your stance to not use them?
> Can't speak for CFIT.  In my case, the stance is to use them, by
> all means, as long as that is not *instead* of accessible HTML;
> but if someone claims they have to *choose* just one of
> "accessible PDF" and "accessible HTML" then I would recommend
> accessible HTML every time.
> As to training, we don't offer any training on producing
> accessible PDFs - basically for the reason I've just given above,
> that, in my particular view, it's usually preferable (no more
> expensive, and more accessible) to target an accessible HTML
> version.
> Best - Barry.
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> Irl-dean at list.eeng.dcu.ie
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