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Re: PDF accessibility guidelines. WAS: Re: PDF's and Signatures

From: Wayne Dick <waynedick@knowbility.org>
Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2015 05:25:45 -0800
Message-ID: <CAC9gL74kL-C3nBsYiWUsMVHFf+DBbw99yZ1RJ68cHsweP1bKYw@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Thompson, Rachel" <rsthompson2@ua.edu>
Cc: Duff Johnson <duff@duff-johnson.com>, "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Dear Rachel,

The issue with WCAG 2.0 is that it really does not cover the difficulties
of reading content that reaches the level of difficulty required for
academic success at the university level.  I taught computer science for 30
years, was chair of my department and chair of my university academic
senate.  As such, I know the Computer Science and Computer Engineering
curriculum extremely well.  I also have a broad, but in depth,
understanding of the readings needed in 60+ departments across campus.
I was also a student and academic professional with a print disability.
So, I know the user side of this problem in academia.  Moreover, my
particular visual disability, central retina damage, is the most common of
all visual disabilities.  I have tried every new tool for PDF almost as
soon as it is out, and being a computer scientist and mathematician, I've
done some really creative transformations of my own.

My conclusion: PDF is the biggest single impediment to academic success for
students and  professionals for the vast majority of  people with print
disabilities.  I know accessibility support for low vision is nonexistent.
The Australian government appears to agree with me on this issue.

Bottom line: Don't use PDF on any instructional materials.

It will cost you lots of money in preparing reasonable accommodations and
it will really hurt your students chances for academic success.

Official memorandum and academic policy statements are OK in PDF, but only
if they are short.

Wayne Dick
Professor Emeritus
Computer Engineering and Computer Science
California State University, Long Bech

On Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 7:06 AM, Thompson, Rachel <rsthompson2@ua.edu>

> Hi, all.
> This is a question I have received several times lately: What
> accessibility guidelines should our web teams and instructors follow when
> making PDFs available online? It seems like there is not a consensus with
> this group (and you are the group I look to for guidance on these issues).
> What guidelines have other organizations adopted? Any ideas or feedback
> are welcome.
> Rachel
> Dr. Rachel S. Thompson
> Director, Emerging Technology and Accessibility
> Center for Instructional Technology
> University of Alabama
> http://accessibility.ua.edu
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Duff Johnson <duff@duff-johnson.com>
> Date: Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 8:47 AM
> To: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
> Subject: Re: PDF's and Signatures
> Resent-From: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
> Resent-Date: Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 8:47 AM
> > I have to disagree slightly with Andy¹s claim ­ PDFs *are* covered-by
> >and included in WCAG
> To a degree, There are many facets of PDF that WCAG does not cover. For a
> complete understanding of PDF accessibility it is necessary to look to
> PDF/UA, the ISO standard for accessible PDF.
> > , and in fact there is a whole section of Success Techniques provided by
> >the W3C. Please see: http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WCAG20-TECHS/pdf.html
> While many of these are useful, some are simply wrong, misleading, or
> both. Additionally, these techniques represent only a modest fraction of
> what¹s necessary to guarantee an accessible PDF.
> > I think the issue(s) you will find problematic include how to render
> >that wet signature to non-visual users (it¹s not text, so OCR etc. will
> >struggle to dealinclude a graphic of a signature, you will of course need
> >to also provide appropriate alt text (I would likely counsel this:
> >alt=²[Signature: Mickey Mouse]²)
> One must distinguish between an ink signature (which is simply a graphics
> object requiring alt text to be accessible) and a digital signature, which
> is a property of the document itself, and should be exposed by AT
> accordingly just as is other document metadata.
> > I am personally unaware of the current state of accessibility and
> >digital signatures on PDFs, although my first guess is that it is likely
> >not perfect, buta robust and long-standing (if still imperfect) tool in
> >their shed. Perhaps Andrew might have a comment here (?)
> So far as I am aware the digital signature UIs in Adobe¹s tools are as
> accessible as the rest of Adobe Acrobat / Reader¹s UI. This has *nothing*
> to do, however, with an ³ink² signature, which is simply a pretty picture
> on the page, and like all other pictures, needs alt text to expose it to
> all forms of AT equally.
> Duff.
Received on Friday, 23 January 2015 13:26:13 UTC

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