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Re: PDF will be legally accessible with the new 508


From: Hoffman, Allen
Date: Mar 25, 2010 1:15PM

PDF content accessibility should not be dependent upon a particular
screen reader product. If the content is tagged appropriately to meet
accessibility requirements, and the PDF "reader" renders the information
for inspection by the assistive technology--and then the assistive
technology doesn't utilize the information provided, well, time to look
at another technology.

-----Original Message-----
From: Don Mauck [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 2:39 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] PDF will be legally accessible with the new 508

I'd disagree with that, it depends on the screen reader.

-----Original Message-----
From: Monir ElRayes [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 7:09 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] PDF will be legally accessible with the new 508

In addition to what Allen said, it is interesting to note that there are
other factors that are often confused with whether a given document
(e.g. pdf) is accessible:

1) Does the document format have internal infrastructure that supports
accessibility? PDF and HTML do for all known accessibility requirements
related to various document elements (e.g. images, tables, lists etc).
Interestingly MS Word - which many people view as inherently more
than PDF- does not have sufficient internal infrastructure to support
key elements (e.g. tables)

2) How difficult is it to make a given format accessible (i.e. to author
correctly)? Much of the confusion about the accessibility of PDF is a
of the fact that it is very hard for an average user to make a PDF
accessible relying solely on the tools provided by Acrobat Pro or
not to mention the fact that many PDFs don't even originate in Acrobat.
Tools like CommonLook (for document remediation in Acrobat
http://www.net-centric.com/products/cl_s508_adobe.aspx ) and PAW (for
authoring accessible PDF from MS Word
http://www.net-centric.com/products/PAW.aspx ) can help overcome the
inherent difficulty in making PDF accessible.

Monir ElRayes
NetCentric Technologies

-----Original Message-----
[mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Hoffman,
Sent: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 2:31 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] PDF will be legally accessible with the new 508

Can someone point to the part of the refresh of the Section 508
standards that would say "PDF is accessible"?

In my view, content in PDF format can be accessible if authored

-----Original Message-----
From: Karlen Communications [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Monday, March 22, 2010 6:53 AM
To: 'WebAIM Discussion List'
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] PDF will be legally accessible with the new 508

Ironically there is a company called JAWS that has had PDF creation
for years.

They didn't used to be interested in accessibility but I haven't checked
them out recently.

I don't see anything about accessibility on their site.

I found them by accident in the early days of a GUI Internet when
for screen reader information. :-)

Cheers, Karen

-----Original Message-----
[mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Christophe
Sent: March-22-10 6:31 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] PDF will be legally accessible with the new 508

At 05:37 20/03/2010, John Foliot wrote:
>We know that there are legacy PDF's out there that will not be
>and likely a few still being created today that are not as rich as
>Acrobat/Live Design could produce. We can only blame that on history
>poor training though, right? Is this a problem with "PDF" or of poor
>authoring practice and the early history of PDF? (...)

There is still a lot of work to be done to improve authoring
practices. I am involved in several projects funded by the European
Commission that had to rework deliverables because the PDF files were
not accessible or not tagged. I had to teach people how to use
Heading styles in MS Word and how to generate tagged PDF from
OpenOffice.org - even more than a year after the start of these
projects. These projects, as all the work I do, focus on
accessibility for people with disabilities. There is a cruel irony in

Lesson learnt: provide tutorials about accessibile authoring
practices at the start of such projects.

>Interesting note about cheap alternatives that generate pseudo-PDFs
>lack access features. Are you aware of any examples that I could see?
>would be interesting to see what if anything they do produce - perhaps
>should go after those software companies instead - I wonder aloud if
>could modify the once proprietary but now open PDF standard to place a
>stronger insistence on accessibility to be called "PDF" (worth asking,
>no?). If bad software tools (versus a file format) is the culprit, we
>should point that out with proof, and attack the real problem. Most
>organizations that I know of, the majority will not buy faulty tools if
>they can avoid it, so the market place can be our friend if we are
>about it.

John, are you looking for overviews like the following?
* JISC TechDIS: "Coparison of Free PDF Software" (no date)
* "Accessibility testing 14 PDF creation tools" (12 September 2009):


Best regards,

Christophe Strobbe

Christophe Strobbe
K.U.Leuven - Dept. of Electrical Engineering - SCD
Research Group on Document Architectures
Kasteelpark Arenberg 10 bus 2442
B-3001 Leuven-Heverlee
tel: +32 16 32 85 51
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