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FW: [techlunch] FW: NCD FYI: Article: AIIM meeting sets PDF/Access standard in motion

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Tue, 30 Mar 2004 08:42:25 -0600
Message-ID: <C46A1118E0262B47BD5C202DA2490D1A0183AD1B@MAIL02.austin.utexas.edu>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Interesting development about an open PDF standard for accessibility.

"Good design is accessible design." 
Please note our new name and URL!
John Slatin, Ph.D.
Director, Accessibility Institute
University of Texas at Austin
FAC 248C
1 University Station G9600
Austin, TX 78712
ph 512-495-4288, f 512-495-4524
email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu
web http://www.utexas.edu/research/accessibility/


-----Original Message-----
From: Pat Pound [mailto:ppound@governor.state.tx.us] 
Sent: Tuesday, March 30, 2004 8:19 am
To: techlunch@smartgroups.com
Subject: [techlunch] FW: NCD FYI: Article: AIIM meeting sets PDF/Access standard in motion

The following article is forwarded to you by the Great Lakes ADA and Accessible IT Center for your information:

PDF Zone.com
March 23, 2004

AIIM meeting sets PDF/Access standard in motion
By Don Fluckinger

It's fun to watch the incredible, expanding PDF standard grow and morph into a multimedia e-paper format that makes paper look so 20th century. Unless, of course, you are blind or have poor vision. In that case, getting work done, reading e-books or filling out forms can be a nightmare.

Furthermore, the federal "Section 508" statutes require government agencies to make their content accessible to people who use aids such as screen-reading software to give voice to documents.

As we all know, Adobe--as well as third-party PDF software developers--would like PDF to become the e-paper standard. Helping companies and the government make their electronic documents Section 508-compliant can give PDF a leg up on its competitors by making it more useful to more people.

That's why software companies, government agencies and advocates for the visually disabled got together for the first time at the AIIM show March 9. Under the auspices of the PDF/Access Working Committee, they formally kicked off discussions for developing a new PDF standard that is usable by people who rely on assistive technologies such as screen readers.

"The AIIM meeting was an inaugural effort," said Adobe accessibility expert Greg Pisocky, who currently chairs the group but plans to step down and be "just a member" once the ball gets rolling on PDF/Access. That's because he understands that if PDF/Access becomes a true open standard--and not just an Adobe initiative--it will have a better chance of widespread adoption.

"The aim is to formally define the characteristics of PDF files that lend themselves well to working with conventional assistive technologies and enable people to add additional attributes that will make PDF files easier for people with disabilities--primarily visual disabilities--to consume on their computers," Pisocky explained.

PDF/Access--like PDF/A for archiving, PDF/E for engineering and PDF/X (and its
variants) for prepress--is a subset of the greater PDF file format that makes some aspects of a PDF file mandatory but bars things that each audience doesn't want (i.e., PDF/A files must have fonts embedded and can't contain executable scripts--so that in the year 2020 when people de-archive a PDF, they won't have to decode archaic JavaScript or try and locate obsolete fonts).

At the March meeting, the committee came up with a set of 20 "business cases" in which PDF/Access files might be used, which will be expanded and edited over several more meetings before the group drafts its first sketch of a proposed PDF/Access standard. In time, the group hopes to get a formal standard written and recognized by ISO. That could take three to five years, or even longer.

Although it's very early in the proceedings, a few things about PDF/Access files are self-evident: They will contain structural markup, including alternate text for visual elements; they will support conversion to alternate media such as Braille or synthetic speech; and they will support non-text media such as video.

Representatives of 18 different organizations attended the March 9 meeting, including Global Graphics, Adobe, DeQue, National Federation of the Blind, PDF Sages and the Internal Revenue Service. Eventually, Pisocky hopes, the assistive technology vendors will come to the table, too.

Pisocky said he's glad Global Graphics is at the PDF/Access table, even though the company competes with Adobe. Because Global's Jaws software is a PDF creation technology used by many people--including the QuarkXPress user base--it's essential that Global has a voice in developing the standard.

"Something I sincerely hope PDF/Access will accomplish is that it will significantly reduce the instances of inaccessible PDFs that people will encounter," Pisocky said.

"Yeah, PDF is associated with Acrobat, and it's associated with Adobe. But the vast majority of PDFs are generated in a non-Adobe environment. So as great a pain as Adobe has taken to try and get its own house in order--InDesign and FrameMaker have mechanisms for making accessible PDFs at the press of a button--other vendors don't do the same things. And that's a big problem for the file format.

More information regarding AIIM available on-line at: http://www.aiim.org/

Source:  http://www.pdfzone.com/news/965-PDFzone_news.html

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Received on Tuesday, 30 March 2004 09:55:58 UTC

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