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Re: Optimizing PDF files for Accessibility

From: Melinda Morris-Black <melinda@ink.org>
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 17:08:24 -0600
Message-ID: <388E2CE7.285B187C@ink.org>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
CC: "Charles F. Munat" <charles@munat.com>
Charles, your comments reflect many of my sentiments. It appears that my post
has been taken out of context. I do indeed believe that all documents should be
accessible. It is my personal goal to help accomplish this at the state level in
Kansas. The current reality, wrong as it may be, is that no money has been
allocated to tasks of this nature. Kansas state agencies are only now developing
guidelines for state webmasters regarding accessibility. Many states have yet to
take this step.

The Federal budget surplus will most likely not be allocated to Kansas to
correct this problem. :) We (the developers) are looking for solutions now,
despite our limited resources, as opposed to waiting for state legislators to
allocate funds, which may take awhile. Software makers tend to release products
much quicker than government acts, so that was our first step when looking for

We are exploring OCR programs to accomplish our tasks. It appears that Adobe is
moving in that direction with Acrobat, to some degree. I found their website's
new stance significant only as a signal of industry change. Realizing that there
is money to be made on accessibility is always an incentive. Hopefully, software
makers will get down to it.


Information Architect
Information Networks of Kansas
FON: (785) 296-5143
PCS: (785) 550-7345
FAX: (785) 296-5563

"Charles F. Munat" wrote:

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

Received on Tuesday, 25 January 2000 18:05:06 UTC

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