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

From: Duff Johnson <duff@duff-johnson.com>
Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2015 12:01:23 -0500
Cc: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-Id: <69007E3E-A738-4178-B960-83FD21D12826@duff-johnson.com>
To: "Thompson, Rachel" <rsthompson2@ua.edu>
Hi Rachel,

I didn’t mean to give the wrong impression. While incomplete and (in some ways) problematic, the WCAG Techniques for PDF are overall an excellent starting point. Of course, there are ways around the functional problem with Acrobat's Reflow, such as simply exporting the document to HTML (via Acrobat) or by using a free tool such as VIP Reader or pdfGoHTML to preview the tagged PDF in HTML just as it would appear to an AT device. 

Others have voted - as you’ve read - against PDF altogether. I understand the frustration. Software developers have been slow to support the accessibility features in PDF. Following publication of PDF/UA in 2012, however, the pace of such development has accelerated dramatically, and new products are coming on the market. Big banks are already delivering their statements as tagged PDF files. 

More importantly, PDF/UA means that you can tell them exactly what you want. Simply say to software developers: “Hey, we want your software to support PDF/UA!”

The predominant issue is that the software companies aren’t getting the message that authoring accessible PDF files matters to the marketplace in dollars-and-cents terms. If each person in the accessibility community simply emailed Apple (for example) to demand that VoiceOver support PDF/UA, that company could choose the solve the problem within a few months. I’ve done it… you can too!

For people who write software, utilizing the accessibility features in PDF is not rocket-science, or even a major effort. It’s a question of what they are asked to do.

The WCAG 2.0 techniques for PDF - certainly with respect to checking / fixing existing PDF files -  are by now quite elderly, and heavily oriented towards a single application (Adobe’s Acrobat). Back when most of them were written Acrobat was the only software in town for those purposes. That’s dated: there are now a variety of tools in the marketplace. 

In any event, and as WCAG 2.0 clearly allows and encourages, the most effective Techniques are those which are specific to the tools your people will be using.

Your software vendor can (and should!) provide documentation on how to use their software to achieve a well-tagged and accessible PDF. Once you have done so and addressed the applicable WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria thereby, you can log that fact and cite it as your Technique for achieving WCAG 2.0.

As an operational matter, that’s really the best sort of “policy” you have.

Received on Friday, 23 January 2015 17:01:52 UTC

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