WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives


From: Philip Kiff
Date: Jan 2, 2008 9:20AM

John E. Brandt wrote on 11 December 2007 12:43 EST:
> BTW, the most difficult documents to make accessible are those
> created with desktop publishing software, like MS-Publisher and Adobe
> PageMaker. Not sure if the newer versions work better - I'm still
> testing - but if content is in columns or moved around the document
> (e.g., continue on page 5 types of layout) it will be difficult to
> create an accessible document. PageMaker was better at this than
> Publisher 2003.

John, I'd be interested in knowing how your testing goes in this area.

In my new job I'm facing a massive archive of PDFs that were created over
the past 5-10 years using the "Save as PDF" option in various MS Office
products, as well as the challenge of what to do with a good number of files
created using the "Export as PDF" option QuarkXpress files.

With my current versions of these products, and based on the lack of
appropriate structures in the originals, it looks like there will be a huge
amount of work involved in creating each individual PDF, and I will only be
able to do it with Adobe Acrobat Professional. My current plan is to
upgrade Acrobat Professional from 6 to 8, and upgrade QuarkXpress from 6.5
to 7, and then reassess the situation. But I still may end up giving up on
trying to convert old PDFs into accessible PDFs altogether and look instead
at creating HTML versions (which currently don't exist either!).

As far as desktop publishing software goes, my impression is that
QuarkXpress version 6.5 creates terrible PDFs as far as accessibility is
concerned, even if you take time to try to design your layout and "styles"
in a way that might help ease the conversion process. And I don't expect
version 7 (the current one) to be much better than version 6.5.

PageMaker was bought up from Aldus by Adobe some years ago, but then I
thought Adobe phased it out a couple years back in favour of InDesign.
InDesign is now their core desktop publishing product and direct competitor
with QuarkXpress. I assume that InDesign does a much better job of creating
PDFs from design layouts than QuarkXpress does, since InDesign is an Adobe
product like Acrobat is. With their "CS" (Creative Suite) versions, Adobe
has been working on merging its product lines together to allow for better
interoperability between its software. Eventually, I'll probably find out
more about all this since I have InDesign on one of my home computers, but I
don't have CS3, and probably won't get it for a good long time.