[Irl-dean] Accessibility of PDF Format Resources?

Joshue O Connor joshue.oconnor at ncbi.ie
Mon Nov 20 15:52:17 GMT 2006

Considering that Brendan has been brave enough to fall on his sword ;-)
I guess that I should also concede that Eoin has a very valid point
about the difficulty of creating accessible PDFs. Its not that difficult
(but again perception of what is difficult or not is subjective). The
situation is certainly improving (at least on the tools front) but its
just not really there *yet*, in that the awareness of how to create
accessible PDFs (say in the Irish Public sector at least) is practically
non existent, combined with the users need to have Acrobat Reader 7.0
along with JAWS 7.0, and the author having to make *sure* that 'Enable
text access for screen reader devices for the visually impaired' is
checked when using document security features, (repeat ad nauseum)...


brendan spillane wrote:
> 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.
> Brendan
> 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.
>> _______________________________________________
>> Irl-dean mailing list
>> Irl-dean at list.eeng.dcu.ie
>> http://list.eeng.dcu.ie/mailman/listinfo/irl-dean


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