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Re: plug-in/viewer links


From: Michael D. Roush
Date: Jun 29, 2007 8:50AM

Cheryl Amato wrote:
> I am doing some work for an agency that puts lots of PDFs and Office documents online. Must a link to the appropriate plug-in or viewer be included on each and every page that accesses them, or can all links be provided on a separate page. Of course there would be a link to the plug-in page on the page requiring the plug-in.
> I realize that HTML is always best but I have little or no control over that.

I think this is a case of "it depends". If the agency in question is
shooting for Section 508 compliance (whether they are legally bound to
it or not), then the answer is yes, a link to the appropriate plug-in or
viewer must appear on the same page where the link to the proprietary
document format appears. See §1194.22(m):

(m) When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other
application be present on the client system to interpret page content,
the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with
§1194.21(a) through (l).

If we're talking about various flavors of WCAG for our standard, WCAG
1.0 Guideline 11 is where we land. It basically says "use HTML/XML
instead or along with the other format(s)". However, the only Priority
1 Checkpoint in guideline 11 is 11.4, and it is one of the "if all else
fails" statements.

Now, if we're not all that worried about adhering to standards and only
concerned with a pragmatic "can the users get the info they want"
approach, I think PDF has become ubiquitous enough that not providing an
html equivalent won't make the information inaccessible to users. But,
whether I think so certainly won't change the opinions of some users out

So, I guess the answer to your question is, "Only if the standard you
are designing for requires that such a link be placed on the page."
That standard may be one developed by an outside agent (508, WCAG, etc)
or one you develop yourself.