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Re: Adobe And TRACE Launch Enhanced PDF Access Via Email

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Wed, 02 Sep 1998 11:49:15 -0400
Message-ID: <35ED68FA.A42FC279@clark.net>
To: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Forgive the cross posting.  It is nice when my worlds come together!  Access to
forms was a recent issue on the Resna list serv.

I agree with Kelly about the PDF converters doing as much harm as good.  Of
course, another thread reveals that I feel that way with regard to PDF in

At the vocational rehabilitation center where I work, paper forms have been a
problem for years.  This is true for folks with vision impairments but also
motor and cognitive issues as well.  In practice, getting the forms in PDF or
even in the original WordPerfect (or Word) file format has not helped.  Various
clinicians have experiment with a variety of OCR form tool software, but none
have been a real panacea.  The problem with these (and with getting the form as
a word processing document) is that they look okay in print, but are not
designed for filling out on-screen.  A typical example is that a line is created
by the underscore character or underlined spaces.  Typing on the "line" moves
text all over the page!  This is the simplest example, there are lots more
problems with boxes, font size changes, and the like.

Our approach has been to CAREFULLY re-create the form in the word processor so
that the person using the screen reader (or other adaptive technology) can
search for "INDENT" (or similar white space code) and then safely enter text
without effecting the formatting of the form.  There is still the possibility
that the person will backspace one time too often (and start deleting code) and
there are other hazards.  Usually we can train around these issues.

This is obviously a very labor intensive approach, and not a very generalizable
solution to the problem.

There are advertised products that are suppose to take paper forms and convert
them into databases.  We have not been able to make them work, especially with
screen readers.  Has anyone else had better success?

There are some nice high-end adaptive technologies out now for dealing with
paper, but they tend to be read-only mechnanisms.  Has anyone had good sucess
with the Kurtzweil Omni 1000 or Omni 3000 (www.kurzweiledu.com) when it comes to
accessing forms?

Robert Neff wrote:

> This is a reply to Kelly:
> I agree.  Not all files are seamlessly converted.  You need to be aware
> what you are converting.  If it is a document with text, then it should be
> ok.  However if it is a form, it may not convert well.  You should test
> before you post!
> Does anyone know of PDF Form (where  you can enter data)?  Would like to
> see how these convert.
> -----Original Message-----
> From:   Kelly Ford [SMTP:kford@teleport.com]
> Sent:   Tuesday, September 01, 1998 7:57 PM
> To:     w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Subject:        RE: Re: Adobe And TRACE Launch Enhanced PDF Access Via Email
> I don't want to start a debate here but my personal opinion is that all
> thse converters do as much harm as good.  If you ask me pdf is a
> problematic file format at best for people that are blind.  I recently
> tried to convert a batch of IRS documents and the results were disasterous.
>  Yet the person at the IRS knew all about these converters and pointed me
> directly to them and seemed oh so very pleased that the documents would be
> made accessible by this convert technology.
Received on Wednesday, 2 September 1998 11:46:11 UTC

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