WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: PDFs that read one word per line


From: Karlen Communications
Date: Jan 27, 2010 5:42PM

I agree, accessibility is built into the source document and that structure
is converted to tagged PDF using the MakeAccessible plug-in through the menu
bar and Ribbons in Office applications. It is more time consuming when you
have to add the Tags to an untagged PDF and make repairs to unstructured

For Microsoft Office 2010 there is an accessibility checker for Word,
PowerPoint and Excel:
lity-investments-document-accessibility.aspx Microsoft also has a Save as
PDF or XPS plug-in to generate tagged PDF from Word, PowerPoint or Excel -
not sure of 2003 compatibility as I use Office 2007.

We are moving toward better designed documents in general and the draft
refresh of Section 508 does include documents from word processing,
presentation and spreadsheet applications so we will get better at creating
documents with structure.

There are some "missing pieces" in Office for Mac 2004 and 2008. Primarily
you can't add Alt text to images in Word. You will need to do this in
Acrobat. I haven't worked in the Mac environment with tagging PDF but it
should come across my plate this year.

BTW if you Print to Adobe PDF you will get an untagged PDF. You will need to
add the Tags in Acrobat.

We are on a learning curve to unlearn those bad habits we developed from
"Just in Time" training that had us creating things that looked good but
fell apart easily. As we learn, we'll get better at it and will have more
tools as we recognize what we need to create more accessible documents.

I guess the key is that there are people, at Adobe and Microsoft and other
companies, who are working toward the same goals we are.

Cheers, Karen

-----Original Message-----
[mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Bevi Chagnon |
Sent: January-27-10 5:43 PM
To: 'WebAIM Discussion List'
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] PDFs that read one word per line

Elizabeth wrote:
" I agree with Julie that Adobe is inadvertently sending out a bad message
about PDF accessibility. ... An instructor, administrative assistant pushes
a convert to PDF button and voila a PDF, but usually not an accessible

In no way do I intend to justify Adobe's actions.

But so much of a PDF's accessibility depends upon how well the source
document was created (i.e., Word, Excel, InDesign documents) and has little
to do with Adobe's software itself.

In Dreamweaver, a web developer is constructing the document (the HTML page)
from scratch and it becomes the deliverable. So it's relatively easy to
build in accessibility from the start when you're creating a webpage.

But in Word, InDesign, or other software, someone is creating a source
document from which the PDF is then exported. It's more difficult to add
accessibility after the fact, after the PDF is made, then it is when you're
creating the original source document in, say, Word.

Bottom line: A poorly structured Word or InDesign document will create an
inaccessible PDF.

--Bevi Chagnon

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Bevi Chagnon | <EMAIL REMOVED> | www.PubCom.com
Consultants + Trainers + Designers | for print, web, marketing, Acrobat, &
PublishingDC Group Co-Moderator |
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