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Re: PDF will be legally accessible with the new 508


From: Karlen Communications
Date: Mar 29, 2010 5:24AM

Maybe part of the solution is higher visibility for the PDF/UA for Universal
Access working group:

maybe the group and its work needs more publicity, understanding of what it
is doing, and publicity?

Cheers, Karen

-----Original Message-----
[mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Wayne Dick
Sent: March-28-10 11:46 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] PDF will be legally accessible with the new 508

Here is what I see is the current problem.

It is possible to implement PDF that meets Level
AA of WCAG 2.0.

I don't think there is enough accessibility
support. Others disagree including some very
knowledgeable accessibility leaders and organizations.

1. Accessibility Support:
I think the issue of accessibility support needs
to be examined. This problem will improve over
time because structural compliance requires the
ability to build appropriate assistive technology.
That is what the obscure term "programmatically
determined" means.

2. Training:
This is not established as much as needed. W3C
technologies have a big head start. That is a
more serious problem. In my university I often
hear comments like. "What's wrong with my handout,
I thought PDF was accessible". I am at one
university and my faculty produce between 100,000
and 200,000 instructional handouts each year.
They need training.

3. Digital libraries in PDF:
This is the most serious problem. Accessible
electronic text is the key to education both
initial and life long. Lack of access to reading
materials is the biggest single factor impeding
education for people with blindness, low vision
and dyslexia.
Last semester a digital library that I use changed
its format from HTML to a proprietary format. In
mid semester I lost access to my students'
textbook for a week. The vendor was kind enough
to give me mobile phone access on my large screen,
and I could answer my students' questions in class
until the site re established HTML.

4. Institutional Support: Adobe has made a serious
effort to make an accessible product with PDF.
The extreme popularity of PDF for users without
disabilities forces the disability support
community to put in resources necessary to address
this fact. I think we need significant help. For
HTML, CSS, XML and web technologies we had the W3C
WAI and WebAIM. For PDF we don't have a
comparable accessibility infrastructure. I see
that as another major issue.

PDF can work as a default text medium, but without
serious intervention it will be a barrier.