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Re: Open XML based document formats and accessibility


From: Christophe Strobbe
Date: Jan 26, 2009 3:50AM

Hi Mike,

At 22:59 23/01/2009, you wrote:
>I am currently compiling an analysis of the impact of moving to an open
>XML based standard for document sharing and retention.
>The standards that I am looking at are ODF (Open Document Format), OOXML
>(Office Open XML), and XHTML.
>So my first question is, are there other standards that I should be
>looking at? I have not considered PDF because I believe that it is not
>an XML based standard, feel free to let me know if I am wrong.

Are you only considering formats that are directly supported by current
user agents and office applications, or also formats that can be converted
into more popular formats?
I think you should also have a look at DocBook, which is being maintained
by OASIS. I believe the DocBook Technical Committee have looked into
DocBook accessibility (DocBook actually defines structure and semantics, not
presentation) and the OpenOffice.org project has also worked on DocBook
support. Below are a few links:
- <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Docbook>;,
- <http://www.oasis-open.org/docbook/>; (DocBook Technical Committee),
- <http://xml.openoffice.org/xmerge/docbook/UserGuide.html>;,
- <http://xml.openoffice.org/xmerge/docbook/>; (DocBook Filters in OOo).

Best regards,

Christophe Strobbe

>Next considering accessibility and compatibility, which formats can be
>authored and read using existing open source or proprietary software
>that is compatible with common assistive technologies like Window Eyes,
>ZoomText, JAWS, and Magic?
>I believe that XHTML offers the greatest level of accessibility but the
>format does not readily lend itself to all business processes. There is
>a definite need to be able to create common "Office" documents and
>Thus it would seem that ODF or OOXML would need to be considered as part
>of the mix and I am particularly concerned with legacy accessibility
>support for those types of documents. OOXML documents seem to be
>reasonably well supported using MS Office 2007 with JAWS 9 and above,
>but what about earlier screen readers? How well do earlier versions of
>JAWS work with earlier versions of MS Office that contain the conversion
>plug in to allow them to work with those versions of Office.
>Turning to ODF, I know that there are plug-ins for MS Office that allow
>editing and reading of ODF files but do any of you have any experience
>testing documents using these formats with assistive technologies and
>either an MS Office Plug-in or a natively compatible software package
>like Star-Office or Open Office?
>Since both formats would require many/most folks to either install new
>software or a plug-in for existing software what are the accessibility
>implications for people with cognitive disabilities?
>Finally are there more questions that I should be asking?
>Mike Moore
>Texas DARS Accessibility Coordinator

Christophe Strobbe
K.U.Leuven - Dept. of Electrical Engineering - SCD
Research Group on Document Architectures
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