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RE: Optimizing PDF files for Accessibility

From: Neff, Robert <Robert.Neff@usmint.treas.gov>
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 17:14:19 -0500
Message-ID: <B1E68D292F3CD111A57C0000F67CB3CA01044C41@wdcsrv03.usmint.treas.gov>
To: "'Charles F. Munat'" <charles@munat.com>, Melinda Morris-Black <melinda@ink.org>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
In regards to your comment, the money is there.

If the money is there then why doesn't the government webmasters see it?
Because it has not been budgeted for that purpose and because the agencies
do not know the money exists (and it really doesn't has because it hasn't
been set aside by congress).  

If you want action you need to write your representatives who can do
something, rather than complaining to the webmaster because they are at the
bottom of the budget process.  You want the webmasters on your side and they
also have not been given proper training and education.  

All the laws in the world will not help you achieve an objective if you
don't have buy-in from the people who will be doing the work - like the

		-----Original Message-----
		From:	Charles F. Munat [mailto:charles@munat.com]
		Sent:	Tuesday, January 25, 2000 3:43 PM
		To:	Melinda Morris-Black; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
		Subject:	RE: Optimizing PDF files for Accessibility

		Melinda Morris-Black wrote:
		"Unfortunately, government agencies have reams of documents
they are trying
		to make
		available via the Internet. Many were never digital
documents. It is not
		economically feasible to hire the legions of staff necessary
to perform the
		task of
		keying in the information in an era of budget cuts.

		"I agree that PDF technology as it stands today is seriously
flawed in
		meeting the
		needs of the disabled. I posted the PDF links so that people
would learn
		that Adobe
		is aware of PDF shortcomings and are making steps toward
		accessibility. It is
		my hope that software makers build tools that help web
developers create


		The only way that PDF technology can be made accessible is
if it recognizes
		the text as text. If the PDF is simply an image of the
original document (as
		many PDF files are, I think), then there is still no way to
access that
		information except visually.

		To convert an "image" PDF to a "text" PDF requires the same
OCR or
		transcription that converting it to a digital document would
require. Unless
		Adobe includes OCR in Acrobat, accessibility will not be
improved for
		"image" PDFs. And if Adobe did add OCR, how would that
differ from current
		OCR software?

		If you are waiting for Adobe to make your documents
accessible, you are
		waiting in vain. Frankly, while I sympathize with your
problem, there is no
		solution other than OCR or transcription. Until government
agencies are
		willing to face this and allocate sufficient funds to moving
into the
		digital realm, a significant portion of the citizens of this
country will be
		denied access to that information, effectively relegating
them to
		second-class citizenship.

		Speaking as a citizen, I find this unacceptable. Instead of
making excuses,
		I'd prefer it if you joined the ranks of people demanding
that all documents
		made available be made available in an accessible format.
The money is
		there. In fact, there is a multi-hundred-billion dollar
surplus. That the
		government is more likely to cut taxes for the wealthy than
to make
		documents accessible to everyone is a political reality, but
it has nothing
		to do with a shortage of funds. It has everything to do with
the status quo.

		I apologize if this seems harsh, but I, for one, have heard
this excuse one
		too many times. I don't buy it, and neither should you.

		Charles F. Munat,
		Munat, Inc.
		Seattle, Washington

Received on Tuesday, 25 January 2000 17:15:41 UTC

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