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Re: Creating an accessible Table of Contents

From: <deborah.kaplan@suberic.net>
Date: Fri, 1 Mar 2013 12:40:58 -0500 (EST)
To: accessys@smart.net
cc: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org list" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.64.1303011230470.32531@suberic.net>
On Fri, 1 Mar 2013, accessys@smart.net wrote:

> I agree pdf has made great strides but getting archivist especially to tag the 
> documents they scan is getting harderd and harder it seems

Speaking as both an accessibility professional and as an
archivist, this is a real dilemma for us when creating PDFs.
Creating accessible PDF is extremely slow, and the creation of
digital digital documents is often about throughput. PDFs in
archives are usually created in one of three ways:

1. We scan documents and create PDFs from the OCR'd scans. This
is a process which is all about doing as much as possible, and is
often either outsourced or work given to paraprofessionals or
student workers. Technology has increased to the point that
scanning, character recognition, and creation of a PDF can happen
in bulk very, very quickly. But the creation of tags on each of
those individual PDFs is still brutally slow and manual, and
requires understanding of the content and structure of the

2. We are given PDFs by people giving us born digital documents.
Again, tagging the individual PDFs is brutally slow and manual,
and requires understanding of the content and structure of the

3. We are given documents in other formats (often Microsoft Word)
which we convert to PDF. These will automatically become
accessible PDF as long as they were accessible in the first place
-- but they very often aren't. Nobody but accessibility
folks puts alternative text into images in Word documents, not
least because it's actually really difficult and nonintuitive.
And if the original document is created without using techniques
which the PDF converter can understand to create tags (such as
word styles) then there's not much the archivist can do.

Ultimately, part of this is the ongoing problem of digitization.
But Adobe actually CAN solve part of this problem, by making the
process of tagging something which can be done easily and
quickly, in an interface which is not a complete usability and
accessibility nightmare in and of itself. If tagging were something
which were easy for everyone to do, and didn't require Acrobat
professional, it might at least happen sometimes. We would still
have the digitization throughput problem, but there would be some
slight improvement.

-Deborah Kaplan
Accessibility team co-lead, Dreamwidth Studios LLC
Digital Resources Archivist, Tufts University
Received on Friday, 1 March 2013 17:41:26 UTC

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