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Re: Accessing PDFs

From: Aaron Smith <aaron@gwmicro.com>
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 14:13:54 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
At 12:59 PM 10/28/2002 -0500, David Poehlman wrote:
>did I say I was confused?  I did not.

You did re-state the incorrect statement that Window-Eyes makes PDFs 
accessible, which is false. I spoke up because I don't want that rumor to 
be perpetuated. I wasn't nagging you directly. I apologize if I offended you.

>when you say that and you have said that pdffs are accessible with window 
>eyes, this does little to raise the hopes of those who are looking for 
>accessible materials when they do not have a choice but to use something 
>other than window eyes or jaws which also renders accessible pdfs and in 
>fact has table support for those that are marked up correctly tabularly.

I think you're making two points here. Let me make sure I understand what 
you're trying to get at. First you state that our press release, and our 
general statement of PDF accessibility, did "little to raise the hopes" of 
those looking for accessible PDFs when in fact not ALL PDFs are truly 
accessible. Your second point appears to be that an individual using 
something other than Window-Eyes, or JAWS (and you mention table support 
specifically with JAWS, although that has exited in Window-Eyes since the 
beginning as well) would be out of luck. You didn't mention HAL, although 
they too have PDF support. I'm not trying to sound flippant, but if not one 
of these three applications, what other screen reading AT would an 
individual wanted to read PDFs be using?

Let me rebut: Press releases are not technical documents. They are, 
however, general announcements regarding a specific subject. A small 
glimpse, if you will, of a future endeavor. Under that definition, I do not 
believe our press release was misleading. Did we specifically state that 
100% of PDFs would be 100% accessible 100% of the time? Absolutely not. To 
do that would have been public relations suicide. Could we have been more 
thorough? Perhaps. But that was step one. Adobe was learning about the 
world of accessibility and we were learning about the world of desktop 
publishing through the eyes (no pun intended) of an accessibility aid.

>I wish all of you luck in your endeavors

I appreciate that. I truly do.

>but till we have solutions that are truly accessible, we will continue to 
>leave some out.  This does not mean that we do not have greater access 
>than before.  it does though mean that we still do not have access unless...???

Unless what? Unless it's perfect? Are you saying that, as a member of an 
accessibility advocacy group, you will not endorse any accessibility 
methods that are not perfect for all products on all levels on all 
operating systems under every condition? That's a remarkable dream, but 
what about reality? Forget names for a moment; forget who supports what. 
Are you saying that you would deny access to a client for a particular 
piece of software simply because the support for that product is not 
perfect? Please help me understand this line of thinking! We are supposed 
to be advocating for accessibility. We are supposed to be saying, "Yes this 
is a good start. Now what can we do to make it better?" We are NOT supposed 
to be saying, "this is not good enough -- come back when it's better." Or 
worse yet, "come back when it's perfect."

>I directed window eyes and jaws usders to gw micro and freedomscientific 
>respectively and also to adobe where appropriate to get their questions 
>answered and still do for those I cannot answer.

That I applaud you for. I wish more people would do just as you have done.

>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Aaron Smith" <aaron@gwmicro.com>
>To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
>Sent: Monday, October 28, 2002 12:33 PM
>Subject: Re: Accessing PDFs
>But we have NEVER said that ALL PDFs would be accessible. In fact, we
>just the opposite whenever we are asked about our PDF support. We say
>same thing for our Macromedia support. I'm very curious to hear where
>popular opinion that we claim TOTAL PDF support originated.
>We have always stated, up front, that unless a PDF is tagged correctly,
>may not read in a desirable way. In fact, let me quote directly from our
>Adobe FAQ found on our support page (http://www.gwmicro.com/support):
>"8. A friend of mine sent me a PDF he created with Adobe Acrobat 3, but
>can't get it to read. Why not?
>The truth is, not all legacy (that means older) PDF files are going to
>read. The accessibility options included in the new version of Adobe
>Acrobat, however, will allow a PDF author to make their PDF accessible.
>if you have an older PDF file that doesn't read, contact the author,
>him or her that the new version of Adobe Acrobat is available, and ask
>they can make their PDF files accessible.
>Now with ability to change the reading order of a PDF, even more PDFs
>be read. But we still do not claim, nor has ANYONE who supports PDFs,
>has ANYONE from Adobe ever claimed total accessibility."
>We go on to say:
>"9. I have a PDF file that doesn't work, but I don't know who wrote it.
>What can I do?
>E-mail the PDF file to us at support@gwmicro.com. We will work with
>to figure out why your PDF isn't working properly, and provide you with
>I can understand that information can become confusing. Take, for
>your statement that Window-Eyes claims, "for making pdfs accessible."
>statement is false because Window-Eyes has no control over whether a PDF
>accessible or not. That is a task for the technology of Acrobat and the
>Acrobat Reader. Window-Eyes simply conveys the information presented
>Acrobat to the end user.
>But I am even more bothered by the fact that you were in a situation
>overcome with confusion, and you did not (to my knowledge) contact us
>clarification. Not to mention the FAQ noted above, or the following
>also on our support page:
>Adobe Acrobat 5 Information:
>* Adobe Access Page - access.adobe.com
>* Booklet: How To Create Accessible Adobe PDF Files [PDF Version]
>* Adobe Accessibility Courseware
>* Booklet: How To Create Accessible Adobe PDF Files [HTML Version]
>* Booklet: Advanced Techniques for Creating Accessible Adobe PDF Files
>* White Paper: Enhancing the accessibility of the Web with Adobe Acrobat
>software [PDF Version]
>* White Paper: Enhancing the accessibility of the Web with Adobe Acrobat
>software [HTML Version]
>Adobe Acrobat 5 and Accessibility Video Series:
>* Working with Microsoft Office 2000 Files
>* Working with Existing PDF files
>* Working with Forms
>* Usability Enhancements of Acrobat 5.0
>* Working with Screen Readers
>Adobe Acrobat 5 Downloads:
>* Acrobat Reader 5.1 Download
>* Acrobat Make Accessible Plug-in
>In this age of endless knowledge, how does confusion like this exist
>you can go right to the source for answers?
>At 12:14 PM 10/28/2002 -0500, David Poehlman wrote:
> >I agree that partial accessibility is a solution but it should be
> >in exactly that way and I guess that is what we are trying to clarify.
> >Working down here in the trenches, I saw a lot of confusion when window
> >eyes claims for making pdfs accessible turned out to be confusing and
> >disheartening to so many people who cannot choose what they use.
> >
> >----- Original Message -----
> >From: "Aaron Smith" <aaron@gwmicro.com>
> >To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
> >Sent: Monday, October 28, 2002 9:52 AM
> >Subject: RE: Accessing PDFs
> >
> >
> >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
> > >>can then be blamed for the rest of the market not doing their part.
> >also
> > >
> > >no only about your "Claiming" that now pdf is accessible, it isn't
> > >won't be with existing technology,  for your product to read it it
> >be
> > >marked up correctly and anyone who hasn't purchased your product
> > >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
> >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.
> >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
> >inaccessible PDFs is a great stride in goal of making even more
> >accessible
> >PDFs.
> >
> > >>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
> >of
> > >luck, BUT I think your advertising is somewhat, ??? overstated.
> >
> >Our advertising states, "Support for Adobe Acrobat PDFs." How is that
> >overstated?
> >
> > >>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)
> > >
> > >upgrading software and hardware upgrades do not always go hand in
> > >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
> > >story.
> > >  I happen to have a somewhat different perspective on accessibility,
> > >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.
> >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
> > >>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
> > >source"
> >
> >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.
> >
> >
> > >Bob
> > >
> > >   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
> > >above. If you are not the intended recipient, Please notify the
> >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
>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

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 14:14:25 UTC

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