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Re: SPAM?:Re: PDFs that read one word per line

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From: Moore,Michael (DARS)
Date: Jan 28, 2010 6:51AM


Mark,

As you pointed out, the issues with screen reader support for PDF accessibility is definitely a significant part of the issue. This problem appears to be particularly complex. I have been doing quite a bit of testing of PDFs and PDF forms generated using Adobe, Open Office, Symphony, and a couple of other tools. I have been testing them on multiple systems with identical configurations using several versions of JAWS and one version of Window Eyes. JAWS seems particularly prone to problems with PDF tables. To make matters even more confusing, the tests are not repeatable, even on the same system, and frequently not even within the same session.

One quick example. Yesterday I was testing a PDF form that was created using Adobe Designer. The test system is a late model Dell running windows XP, JAWS 9 and Adobe Reader 9.2. On the first iteration of the test JAWS would fail to report the first form field at the top of each page. The user would need to tab past that form field then tab back to get it to read. I closed the file, reopened it and it was read fine. I repeated the test using JAWS 10 and JAWS 11 on the same system. In each case small problems were encountered during the first or second iteration of the test. Turning off autoforms mode in JAWS 10 seemed to make that version a bit more stable and using insert+escape to refresh the document when JAWS 11 got stuck helped in that case. I released the forms for publication, as they seem to be as accessible as they will get but I understand the frustration that our JAWS users have. We publish each form in a word version and a PDF version. People who use JAWS to compl
ete the forms almost exclusively use the Word version of the forms. Please note, the MS Word forms are not perfect either. We have a saying around here, each system is like a snowflake. I am afraid that it's more like each system is like a virus, constantly mutating.

In conclusion, don't blame Adobe for all of the problems with PDF, but don't claim that PDF is as accessible as HTML either. HTML simply performs in a more consistent manner.

Mike Moore
(512) 424-4159