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Media: PDF tagging for the blind

From: david poehlman <poehlman1@comcast.net>
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 20:22:26 -0400
Message-ID: <007d01c467a6$4fb54b90$6401a8c0@DAVIDPC>
To: "wai-ig list" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

PDF tagging for the blind
Published Sunday 11th July 2004 22:51 GMT

A new online service will supply automatic tagging for PDF documents to make
them easier for blind and visually impaired readers to understand.

Open Access, an umbrella group established to help institutions render their
websites more accessible to people with disabilities, announced the service
last week in Paris at the International Conference on Computers Helping
People With Special Needs (
ICCHP 2004).

A recent eGovernment Benchmarking Report, compiled by Irish Web firm IQ
Content, reveals that many government websites rely too much on PDF format
This can be problematic for users with disabilities. Also, too few sites
offer consistent orientation and navigation.

At present, the provision of tagging functionality ensures that correctly
tagged and formatted Adobe PDF (portable document files) documents will
to accessibility guidelines. The problem, however, is for institutions to
create documents with the correct tags; this is costly and time consuming,
software programs and appropriately trained staff.

"These organisations may have thousands of PDFs, which may only need to be
updated just once a year," said Charles Pike from Usabledesign.ie, which is
of the Open Access group. "To update them manually at present is a major
expense and companies aren't keen."

To address this, Open Access has developed a Web-based service known as
"EnablePDF". Organisations upload their PDF documents, which are processed
and returned
with the relevant accessibility features added. The service will be
available online
from September; and will "include the production of a full report as to the
changes made to the document".

This means that blind and visually-impaired surfers who at present receive
screen readers in a "stream of consciousness" format, will be told
where to find headers and new paragraphs.

Received on Sunday, 11 July 2004 20:22:29 UTC

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