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Re: PDF documents and accessibility support

From: Ramón Corominas <listas@ramoncorominas.com>
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2012 14:31:40 +0100
Message-ID: <50D1C1BC.1090509@ramoncorominas.com>
To: Olaf Drümmer <olaf@druemmer.com>
CC: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Hello, Olaf and all,

Olaf wrote:

 > so let's assume this is fixed by end of Q1 2013 (...) present
 > the content of the PDF file in an accessible manner

Let's assume that the Callas tool exposes ("presents") the structure of 
the tagged PDF to the MacOS accessibility API, so the screen reader user 
can read it and browse the PDF more or less as an HTML document.

Let's also suppose that users with disabilities can access all the same 
features of a given PDF as people without disabilities can. This 
includes not only reading its text and browsing its structure, but also 
reading alt texts for images and form labels, activating links, 
interacting with forms, saving filled forms with the data entered, 
printing, selecting and copying text (whenever security allows these 
things, of course),and any other possible interaction that non-disabled 
users could do.

Of course, let's assume that it has no cost and that the download 
process is accessible with VoiceOver.

Finally, let's suppose that the availability of one single (mandatory) 
tool for the disabled, instead of a myriad of tools available for 
non-disabled people (including built-in tools) can be considered "as 
easy to find and obtain" for the person with disability. I guess that 
this was meant for technologies that would require a specific tool for 
everyone, not only for PwD, but okay let's suppose that "PwD have to use 
that specific tool" is acceptable.

Then yes, from the moment this tool is available, then PDF files created 
with accessibility features will meet WCAG 2.0 (incuding existing PDF 
documents that have already been created that way). Until then, I think 
they cannot be considered WCAG 2.0 compliant.

> what's next to bring PDF and accessibility closer together?

Next is, of course, that many other vendores create free tools to use 
accessible PDF files in an accessible way (including profiles different 
from blindness, for example being able to dajust colours, fonts, etc.); 
and that many free tools are available to create accessible PDF documents.

> PS: One of the reasons to not prohibit PDF on public websites is that there
 > are excessive amounts of content that is readily available but only
 > in PDF.

That's not a reason to deny accessibility. For the same reason, website 
owners could say: "we have too many webpages that are inaccessible, so 
we cannot transform them all to be accessible".

Nevertheless, I agree that there must be a balance, and it is 
unrealistic to pretend that every outdated PDF form in a Public 
Administration website is updated just to make it accessible (even if it 
will never be used).

However, I find unacceptable that forms used to apply for a grant or to 
pay taxes, for example, rely on "accessible" PDF or any other 
"accessible" technology that is only accessibility supported on Windows 

Received on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 13:35:24 UTC

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