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Re: PDF Alternatives?

From: Steven McCaffrey <smccaffr@MAIL.NYSED.GOV>
Date: Wed, 02 Aug 2000 13:48:03 -0400
Message-Id: <s98826a4.034@mail.nysed.gov>
To: <STAUFFERP@cder.fda.gov>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, <w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org>
I'm not familiar with the term "PDF-normal".  What is this format?  As distinguished from what?

Some pages are rendered well, but not all.  This is true for the other conversion options as well such as the Email service and the online tool at Adobe.
Simple pages are, well, simple, and are usually read by JFW with no problem. 
Complex pages are, well, complex and may make little sense when read by JFW.  The closer the original document is to linear text already, the more likekly it will be read by JFW well.
I believe there is a white paper on the Adobe site for preparing a document for accessibility so as to increase the liklihood of an accessible  post-conversion document. 

        The bottom line for all accessibility issues is test the resulting page.  If n-1 documents converted well, the n-th one may not.
The conversion tools are better now, but still the pages need to be tested after conversion.
Do other screen readers work with
 Acrobat 4.05 and do as well as Jaws? 
Still, for universal accessibility, we should not assume everyone  has the plug-in, (or any Adobe software for that matter), or any particular screen reader.
If the resulting converted document is accessible, that accessible version should be posted on the web site in addition to the original source PDF file, (save as HTML if the HTML is accesible! or save as text if the text vversion is accessible!).


>>> "Paul Stauffer 301-827-5694 FAX 301-443-6385" <STAUFFERP@cder.fda.gov> 08/02/00 12:31PM >>>
, it was able to read PDF-normal
pages.  So has the policy been revisited?

Paul Stauffer

>Mr. Woolley,
>The problem with PDF at this time is that screenreaders are unable to
>the text as well as fill in the forms of PDF documents.  This is the
>for the US disability rights concern that the PDF form prevents
>communication" under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)and
serves to
>effectively discriminate against people with disabilities utilizing
>screenreader applications.  
>Adobe has committed to finding ways to incorporate structure into a PDF
>document upon creation and we all welcome that effort.  The first
>ADA complaint against the City of San Jose was precisely because we had
>posted our city counsel documents in PDF format.  As a result, my
office had
>to develop an accessible web design policy in 1995 to manage ADA
>The outcome was a compromise.  If City webmanagers posted a document in
>they also had to post an equivalent accessible document in HTML.  This
>policy has been adopted by the US Department of Justice - the
>authority for the ADA - and is consistent with current practices of the
>USDOJ and the US Access Board.
>Again, I am sure that all of us are looking forward to Adobe improving
>product.  Until then, disability discrimination laws will continue to
be the
>basis for complaints filed against covered entities posted documents
>forms only in PDF.
>Thankfully, the accessibility effort is not totally reliant upon Adobe.
>is extremely helpful that the W3C WAI has approached accessible web
>from multiple fronts - not only through the Web Content Accessibility
>Guidelines but also through the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines and
>Web Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines.  Developers of
>will benefit enormously from the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines. 
>you probably know, some of the benefits of the User Agent Guidelines
>improved inter-operability, functionality and accessibility helps.
>I apologize for this long post.
>Best regards,
>Cynthia Waddell
>Cynthia D. Waddell   
>ADA Coordinator
>City Manager Department
>City of San Jose, CA USA
>801 North First Street, Room 460
>San Jose, CA  95110-1704
>(408)971-0134 TTY
>(408)277-3885 FAX
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Dave J Woolley [mailto:DJW@bts.co.uk] 
>Sent: Wednesday, August 02, 2000 3:57 AM
>To: 'w3c-wai-ig@w3.org' 
>Subject: RE: PDF Alternatives?
>> From:	Waddell, Cynthia [SMTP:cynthia.waddell@ci.sj.ca.us] 
>> It is not necessarily true that a person who is blind or has low
>> would require assistance in completing a form.  If you noted the
>> 508
>> proposed rule, an online form designed to be accessible would enable
>> someone
>> using a screenreader to fill out the form.
>	[DJW:]  I don't see that this is particular 
>	incompatible with PDF.  In fact PDF text is
>	more likely to be real text than the text
>	on typical commercial web pages.  The only real
>	problem with the text in PDF files is it is
>	often produced by word processors that think
>	they can do a better job of spacing characters
>	than PostScript can do.  That means that you
>	normally get individually placed characters,
>	rather than whole words with a horzontal stretch 
>	factor, as allowed by the PDF primitives.  This 
>	can confuse tools that try to extract words from the  
>	text (I predict that the same problem will happen 
>	with SVG if, as I suspect, people use it for whole 
>	pages, not just graphics).
>	(It seems to me that there is a place for tools to
>	help marginally reformat PDF to take out the detailed
>	microspacing and replace it by stretch factors.  It's 
>	possible they are already in the commercial Acrobat 
>	toolset.)
>	PDF does have a fill the forms facility, even in
>	the version before last of Acrobat, and you can 
>	print the result.  This is not an ideal example 
>	from a size or accessibility point of view, but
>	it does demonstrate the feature - it needs the 
>	latest Acrobat reader:
>	(please destroy any printout if you are not a 
>	participant!).
>	Once you impose a constraint that the layout should
>	exactly match that of the printed form, I think PDF
>	becomes the format of choice.
>--------------------------- DISCLAIMER
>Any views expressed in this message are those of the individual sender,
>except where the sender specifically states them to be the views of

Steve McCaffrey
Senior Programmer/Analyst
Information Technology Services
New York State Department of Education
New York State Workgroup on Accessibility to Information Technology 
Web Design Subcommittee 
Received on Wednesday, 2 August 2000 13:51:04 UTC

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