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RE: Acrobat PDF & Accessibility

From: Cynthia Waddell <Cynthia.Waddell@psinetcs.com>
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2001 16:00:54 -0800
To: "Access Systems" <accessys@smart.net>, "Jason Megginson" <jason@bartsite.com>
Cc: "'Ken Reader'" <kreader@attaininc.org>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
I suppose now is a good time to point out to those web developers in the US
that the issue of PDF was raised in a 1995 Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA) complaint filed in my office when I was the ADA Compliance officer for
a local government.  A blind City Commissioner, appointed by City Council to
advise them on disability matters, could not access City Council documents
because they were posted on our website in PDF (portable document format).
Because I was charged to investigate and resolve ADA complaints, I looked at
the issue and determined that the City needed an accessible web design
standard to address the problem.  This standard requires that if a PDF
document is posted, then an accessible format of that document must also be
posted.  This was prior to the launch of the W3C WAI.  See ISOC member
briefing at http://www.isoc.org/briefings/002/.

If PDF must be posted for some reason, it is good public policy to have the
web developer convert the document and check the coding for accessibility
before posted it up on the web in HTML.  As some people have commented on
this list, relying on the web site visitor to convert the document with
Reader is not necessarily helpful since the conversion may not represent
what the author of the document intended.  Whether the PDF was not created
properly in the first instance, or whether the plug-in itself does not meet
Section 508 requirements - these are additional accessibility problems.
Hopefully someday the problem will be resolved.

My 2 cents.

Cynthia Waddell

Cynthia D. Waddell, JD
Principal Consultant
Subject Matter Expert
Accessibility Center of Excellence
(800)547-5602 or Fax (800)228-8204

ACE Offices are located at San Jose, CA, Sacramento, CA and Raleigh, NC USA

San Jose Office:
PO BOX 5456
San Jose, California USA 95150-5456
Received on Friday, 21 December 2001 18:59:27 UTC

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