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RE: Accessing PDFs

From: Aaron Smith <aaron@gwmicro.com>
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 09:52:15 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
At 08:11 PM 10/26/2002 -0400, Access Systems wrote:
>>I'm confused at how our (or anyone's) support for a product or feature 
>>can then be blamed for the rest of the market not doing their part. I also
>no only about your "Claiming" that now pdf is accessible, it isn't and
>won't be with existing technology,  for your product to read it it must be
>marked up correctly and anyone who hasn't purchased your product can't
>read it at all.

I just opened up Word, typed a couple of lines, converted the document to a 
PDF, loaded the PDF with Window-Eyes and read the lines that I typed 
through the 5.1 Reader. That to me is accessible. I also opened up a 
document that I received from a customer some time back only to hear a 
message telling me that there was no accessible text in the document even 
though I could visually see it. That to me is  inaccessible. But to stop 
there (to make a black and white, blanket statement stating that an object 
either is accessible or is not accessible) leaves no room for improvement. 
We didn't launch toward, arrive at, and walk on the moon in one shot. It 
took several tests and refinements before we achieved that goal. Step back, 
and take a look at the big picture; having some accessible PDFs and some 
inaccessible PDFs is a great stride in goal of making even more accessible 

>>providing features for our customers, as well as features to attract new 
>>customers. Are you saying that if a developer decides to be lazy because 
>>of a feature that we have added, we are then responsible for that 
>>developer's laziness?
>nope, and I'm not trying to stop your development, I wish you the best of
>luck, BUT I think your advertising is somewhat, ??? overstated.

Our advertising states, "Support for Adobe Acrobat PDFs." How is that 

>>I disagree. I believe that any operating system is going to require 
>>upgrading, and conversely, any piece of software (designed to do 
>>complicated tasks such as hooking the OS like screen readers do) will
>upgrading software and hardware upgrades do not always go hand in hand,
>nor do upgrades always have to be expensive

Exactly my point. There is always an initial investment of some sort, and 
then you have upgrades. No one said that upgrades had to be expensive. The 
past two upgrades of Window-Eyes have been free (one of those upgrades 
included fixes to make reading PDFs more stable), and the next upgrade of 
Window-Eyes will also be free.

>> >??? emacspeak is considerably less than yours
>>Exactly. Yet another choice for consumers. Since emackspeak is a viable 
>>option, a consumer could could weigh the option of a *nix box with 
>>emacspeak, or a Windows box with Window-Eyes, or a Windows box with any 
>>other screen reader, or a Mac with Outspoken. Choices.
>choices but ONLY Window-Eyes on a windoze PC will even partially read pdf,
>that is the problem.

That's completely false. Window-Eyes (Std. $595/Pro. $795), JAWS (9X 
$895/NT $1195), and HAL (Std. $695/Pro. $1095) all have PDF support.

>heck have the VCR's in the USA are blinking 00:00, but that is another
>  I happen to have a somewhat different perspective on accessibility, I
>don't accept what I can get. "If you take what they give you, you deserve 
>what you get"

And if you wait for perfection, you're never going to have anything. My 
point in saying that I take what I can get doesn't stop at that. Believe 
me. When it comes to accessibility I am very greedy; I want all that I can 
get and then more. But I also have the intelligence to realize that I have 
to start with something and grow from that point. "The greatest 
masterpieces were once only pigments on a palette." --Henry S. Hoskins

If support for PDFs -- even if you want to call it partial support, or 
limited support, or whatever -- is not embraced and challenged in a 
constructive manner, then you will NEVER achieve the kind of accessibility 
you're looking for. There are too many people sitting high and mighty with 
elitist view exists of how accessibility should be, and not enough people 
down in the trenches actually working with the individuals who NEED 
accessibility, and doing the dirty work to make accessibility what it 
should be.

>>Window-Eyes. What would be the point of our company (or any company 
>>determined to find a meaningful compromise between making a difference 
>>and being profitable) be if all of our trade secrets where available to 
>>the public? How would we pay the gas bill?
>hmmmm, seems Red Hat isn't doing too badly, and IBM has chosen "open

We are a very small company with one main product which pays the bills. Red 
Hat and IBM have are corporations with multiple ventures spawning multiple 
projects spinning out multiple products.

>>Aside from the definition of accessible, I agree. It is an understatement 
>>to say that education is the most important key.
>afraid I don't quite get what you are saying here???

Education is important -- that's an understatement.

>   ASCII Ribbon 
> Campaign                        accessBob
>    NO HTML/PDF/RTF in 
> e-mail                   accessys@smartnospam.net
>    NO MSWord docs in e-mail                    Access Systems, 
> engineers
>    NO attachments in e-mail,  *LINUX powered*   access is a civil right 
> *#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#
>THIS message and any attachments are CONFIDENTIAL and may be
>privileged.  They are intended ONLY for the individual or entity named
>above. If you are not the intended recipient, Please notify the sender as
>soon as possible. Please DO NOT READ, COPY, USE, or DISCLOSE this
>communication to others and DELETE it from your computer systems.  Thanks

To insure that you receive proper support, please include all
past correspondence (where applicable), and any relevant
information pertinent to your situation when submitting a
problem report to the GW Micro Technical Support Team.

Aaron Smith
GW Micro
Phone: 260/489-3671
Fax: 260/489-2608
WWW: http://www.gwmicro.com
FTP: ftp://ftp.gwmicro.com
Technical Support & Web Development
Received on Monday, 28 October 2002 09:52:17 UTC

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