W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > October to December 2002

Re: Accessing PDFs - what is accessible?

From: Phill Jenkins <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 14:01:08 -0600
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <OFE1FF6CD9.D5980F2A-ON86256C60.0069180A@pok.ibm.com>

Seems that the same term "accessible" is being used in different contexts,
but meaning different things. I think in some discussions the term
"accessible" should be omitted, then more effective communication can take

Here's four examples:

1. PDFs are accessible with WindowEyes, JAWs, ZoomText, HPR etc.
could really mean that WindowEyes, JAWS, ZoomText,  renders PDF to users,
or that WindowEyes, etc. supports the PDF format by rendering it to users,
or that HPR automatically converts the PDF format to HTML and renders it to

2. PDF is accessible.
could really mean that PDF can be marked-up for complete rendering by ATs,
or that the PDF wasn't complex enough and could be easily be converted
and/or rendered by ATs
or that an equivalent alternative to PDF was made available,

3. PDF is not accessible.
could really mean one or more of the following:
- that the PDF was complex enough to require that it be marked-up for
complete rendering by ATs, but wasn't.
- that the PDF was marked-up, but that the AT
a. wasn't capable of supporting [wasn't currently designed to support] the
PDF format, or
b. wasn't available on that platform, or
c. wasn't at the updated/correct level to support the PDF format, or
e. wasn't available or affordable to the end user.
   Note: a through e are not related to the user's disability, but the
capability, availability, or affordability of the AT and/or the file

4. PDF is accessible.
could really mean one or more of the following:
- that PDF is easily rendered by free acrobat reader on many/most
- that the PDF was available via the Internet address and the server was up
and running.

Try the exercise of replacing the term PDF with HTML and see what you
learn.  Try again with FLASH, or SMIL, or any other format name - I did.

Let's all try, when talking about accessibility, to not use the term
"accessible" in the definition.

 I think it is OK to use "accessibility" as an adjective when referring to
things like
1. accessibility markup standard
2. accessibility department of an organization
3. accessibility legislations or regulations
4. accessibility tools/software

Phill Jenkins
IBM Research Division - Accessibility Center
Received on Monday, 28 October 2002 15:01:43 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 13 October 2015 16:21:21 UTC