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

From: Adam Cooper <cooperad@bigpond.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:33:15 +1100
To: "'Duff Johnson'" <duff@duff-johnson.com>, "'WAI Interest Group'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000301d03931$f7cf8ee0$e76eaca0$@bigpond.com>
Hi Duff, 

<For over a decade PDF's success has *nothing* to do with Adobe's
"strategizing and marketing" and *everything* to do with the simple,
unadorned fact that PDF meets a wide variety of needs.>
That may be the case, but these needs may turn out to be illusory and more
cheaply, easily, and accessibly fulfilled by an open alternative.

<As the late Christopher Hitchens once said: "What can be asserted without
evidence can be dismissed without evidence.">
Hheheh ... good for Christopher. Feel free to enumerate the use cases for
PDF on the web and fill this evidence hole

<I don't really know what you mean. It's true that accessible PDF has been
around for a while, albeit poorly supported by most. That can change.>
and that's the point - it can change, but it hasn't and it is unlikely to.
PDF might be accessible on paper, but it offers up a miserable user
experience on the web and not just for assistive technology users 

<Or, developers simply make the necessary (and relatively modest) effort to
support tagged PDF - which is not (unlike HTML/CSS) a moving target, and
it's "job done".>
If it was so simple and modest, surely it would be ubiquitous? And why not
just use HTML and CSS in the first place? 

<We'll see. I'm all for using technologies such as EPUB where appropriate. I
have yet to see EPUB files gain a significant toehold on the web.>
The question is whether we want to see more *files* on the web. For me,
that's part of the problem - the web is often understood as one giant
electronic corkboard . IF PDF offers features that people need and/or want,
let it be built into the basic structures of the web and not added as a
second-rate afterthought 

Cheers, 
Adam 

-----Original Message-----
From: Duff Johnson [mailto:duff@duff-johnson.com] 
Sent: Monday, January 26, 2015 4:08 PM
To: WAI Interest Group
Subject: Re: PDF accessibility guidelines. WAS: Re: PDF's and Signatures

> In my opinion, the greatest contributors to the persistence of PDF apart
from Adobe's ruthlessly effective strategizing & marketing

Haha! If you knew Adobe as well as I do you would know how funny that is! 

For over a decade PDF's success has *nothing* to do with Adobe's
"strategizing and marketing" and *everything* to do with the simple,
unadorned fact that PDF meets a wide variety of needs.

> The use cases for PDF on the web are very narrow and even the
all-too-common and most spirited defences of its utility do not hold up to
much scrutiny.

As the late Christopher Hitchens once said: "What can be asserted without
evidence can be dismissed without evidence."

> Any content that originates in another format can just as readily be
delivered using HTML and pixel perfect printing is similarly achievable
using HTML, CSS, & JavaScript.

Professionals in the industry (I know a few) appear to feel otherwise. 

> I don't believe that finding accommodations to manage the persistence &
predominance of PDF on the web is the only or most effective approach - this
has been going on for some time, now, with mixed results.

I don't really know what you mean. It's true that accessible PDF has been
around for a while, albeit poorly supported by most. That can change.

> It seems to me that seeking alternatives & making the case for changing
how things are done will be ultimately more effective in making the web more
accessible rather than applying endless Band-Aids to a limping technology.

Or, developers simply make the necessary (and relatively modest) effort to
support tagged PDF - which is not (unlike HTML/CSS) a moving target, and
it's "job done".

Why insist that people should not have what they so clearly want? Why not
rather insist that developers support the longstanding accessibility
features in said internationally-standardized technology?

> Congratulations to IBM .  to paraphrase Kant: enlightenment is freedom
from nonage.

We'll see. I'm all for using technologies such as EPUB where appropriate. I
have yet to see EPUB files gain a significant toehold on the web.

Duff. 
Received on Monday, 26 January 2015 06:33:47 UTC

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