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RE: Optimizing PDF files for Accessibility

From: Charles F. Munat <charles@munat.com>
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 15:58:31 -0800
To: "Loretta Guarino Reid" <lguarino@Adobe.COM>, "Charles F. Munat" <charles@munat.com>
Cc: "Melinda Morris-Black" <melinda@ink.org>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, <ribrown@Adobe.COM>
Message-ID: <NDBBKDNHDLCHIDEDGEICGEPECDAA.charles@munat.com>
Loretta,

You make many good points here, none of which surprises me. But my point was
that the only way to get an image-based PDF to an accessible text-based PDF
is by OCR or transcription. I think it's great that you are including OCR
capability in the PDF creation process. But I presume there is still the
issue of conversion errors.

So it's still a matter of using OCR to convert the documents. The only
alternative that I see is a screen reader that performs OCR (which might not
be a bad idea). Otherwise, it's either transcription, OCR using OCR
software, or OCR in Acrobat. Do you see my point?

And if OCR is going to take place, it would be just as easy to convert the
documents to HTML or another format as to PDF.

I hope this makes more sense to you. I did not intend to disparage Adobe's
laudable efforts to make PDF as accessible as possible. I encourage you to
keep up the good work.

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



-----Original Message-----
From: Loretta Guarino Reid [mailto:lguarino@Adobe.COM]
Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2000 2:23 PM
To: Charles F. Munat
Cc: Melinda Morris-Black; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org; lguarino@Adobe.COM;
ribrown@Adobe.COM
Subject: Re: Optimizing PDF files for Accessibility


> If you are waiting for Adobe to make your documents accessible, you are
> waiting in vain.

On the contrary, Adobe is committed to making PDF documents accessible. We
are
analyzing what needs to be added to or fixed in the PDF language definition
to
support the WAI Accessibility Guidelines. We are also developing our own
accessibility guidelines for PDF authoring tools. We have posted an early
versioin of these guidelines on http://access.adobe.com/.

Althouh someone can create an"Image-only" PDF, most PDF fiels are not mere
images of documents. They re fully searchable documents with live text. The
problem to date has been making that text easily accessible to assistive
technology devices, such as screen readers used by the visually impaired.
Our
current guidelines indicate that image-only PDF are inaccessible. Acrobat
Capture, which allows users to scan in paper-based documents and convert
them
to PDF, can be used in a mode that converts the image of a document to live
text, much like an OCR engine. If a scanned document is converted to PDF
this
way, it is then more accessible.

As Adobe has stated on the access.adobe.com Web site, we are actively
working
to make PDF files more accessible and make the free Acrobat Reader more
compatible with assisitve technology devices.

You are right that this won't automatically make all PDF files accessible.
There will exist legacy PDF files with accessibility problems, and we'll
have
the same challenges encouraging authors to make their documents accessible
that HTML authoring tools have. We are exploring development of tools that
will help users check legacy PDFs for accessibility and alert them to
problems, e.g. this is an image-only PDF.

Please read the white paper at http://access.adobe.com which provdes more
detail on these comments.

Loretta Guarino Reid
Acrobat Accessibility Engineer
Received on Tuesday, 25 January 2000 18:58:33 GMT

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