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

Looks like it's time for a small group discussion that can report back any agreements/decisions?  The passion involved and the number of emails is degrading the value of the thread.

Terry Lynn Sales
Architecture and Engineering
Section 508 SME
Cargo Systems Program Directorate/OIT
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
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-----Original Message-----
From: John Foliot [] 
Sent: Monday, January 26, 2015 12:28 PM
To:; 'David Woolley'
Subject: RE: PDF accessibility guidelines. WAS: Re: PDF's and Signatures wrote:
> but to the average person they put a document on a scanner (or scan it 
> from a computer document) export it as a pdf and add it as an 
> "attachment"
> in or after a document.  fast, simple, easy, but not very accessible.

...and your evidence and proof of this is where?...
(and what is an "average" person?)

> in a couple minutes I can take pretty much anything, scan it on a $100 
> flatbed scanner, then send the result as an exported pdf document 
> anywhere on the web.  or even worse send a scanned text document as a 
> jpg. but we are not talking about that.

Yes Bob, yes you are. I'm sorry, but it is very simple for anyone who doesn't know any better to do any number of things that will make a document or content inaccessible to some or many users. It is simple and easy to make PDF a scapegoat (I'm waiting for you to bemoan the inter-op issues on Linux any minute now), but it goes nowhere in making things better. Being "mad"
and "fed-up" won't change things, and while it may make some feel better to lambast PDF on this list, I've not read any constructive suggestions on how to better educate content creators to improve their efforts towards meeting PDF/UA.

Let's be very clear here: there is no such thing as "100% accessible to everyone", and yes, there is and remains a legacy issue with older PDFs on the web. Yes, everyone agrees that it can be more accessible to provide content in other formats that will be *more* accessible than others, but perpetuating the myth that somehow PDFs (or Flash, or Adobe, or pick your favorite boogey man) are the root of all evil on the web is wrong, and should stop.

Duff said it best: "...the accessibility community is a major part of the problem here. Instead of asking for "accessible PDF" far too many in the a11y world spend their PDF-related energy simply hating on the format itself rather than demanding improvements from software vendors."

I second that, however also suggest to Duff that "the community" is not represented by the few voices on this thread that have taken the opportunity, once again, to dump all over PDF. Thanks Duff for the previous links and comments, they have been valuable.


John Foliot
Web Accessibility Specialist
W3C Invited Expert - Accessibility
Co-Founder, Open Web Camp

Received on Monday, 26 January 2015 17:37:19 UTC