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Re: Use of Headings

for

From: Simius Puer
Date: Jul 28, 2010 6:06AM


I think we agree on the general principles here but I'm not entirely sure
why my response was dissected quite so thoroughly...

...or the available tools (in the example case, MS Word) simply can't do the
> right thing by itself, no matter who is using it.
>

I agree with you that tools such as MS Word as they do have limitations. In
the real world though, the vast majority of bad mark-up is actually down to
the user not using the tool properly. I've also seen people say "Word can
not do XYZ" when I know full well that it can.

The problem is simply that software developers have yet to provide
> conventional facilities to allow users to distinguish layout tables from
> tabular data when it comes to generating PDF files. It's not hard; it's just
> not been done yet. (just as Word doesn't yet support table row headers).
>

Excellent example illustrating the point above. Actually, it is entirely
possible to give a document layout in Word without resorting to tables. It
might not be easy or intuitive, but it is a capability.

I don't want to re-start the "good format for the web" wars unless
> absolutely necessary!
>

Me neither as I agree there are plenty of them hence I didn't rake them up
again - people can read the archives for that. My point was that most
people are not even aware of the considerations when it comes to format
choice...not everyone is as familiar with the topic and might not know that
debate already exists on this list!

On what basis does it "sound like web content"? The original question had
> to do with table structure - not exactly a "web content specific" issue.
>

Primarily because this is a forum about web and web accessibility in
general. Then there was the hint: "She writes in Word, and then we convert
to PDF for publication on our website". Sure, the tables are the focus of
the problem, but as any Web professional knows when you look at one problem,
that problem is usually related to a slightly bigger picture.

Now, if you work in a silo and only ever look at the problem in front of you
it might just talk about how to deal with the tables.

However, taking a step back as I did, I simply suggested the originator *may
wish to consider* the format they are using in the first instance. I don't
think this takes such a leap of the imagination, it is not bad advice and I
don't see how putting that under a microscope will add any value to the
thread.

How is this advice PDF-specific? It seems the same advice that would be
> required for authoring accessible content from any format.
>

Agreed, it is sound advice for authoring accessible content in any format.
It wasn't specifically intended to be PDF-specific advice but the whole
point of "converting from Word to PDF" certainly puts it in that ballpark.

Again, I'm not sure why this point is being challenged or what value you
trying to add to the thread.


Just for the record I am not anti-PDF (which I get the impression was the
basis for your response) and I rate the file format quite highly - *when
used for legitimate reasons and created correctly*.


...Mike - these references may also be of some use to you in answering your
original question:

- http://webaim.org/techniques/word/
- http://webaim.org/techniques/acrobat/


*Andrew Hart*


On 28 July 2010 11:35, Duff Johnson < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:

> These are interesting points, and I'm happy to provide some additional
> information.
>
> On Jul 28, 2010, at 4:38 AM, Simius Puer wrote:
>
> > Several major problems I can see:
> >
> > 1. You are getting someone unskilled in authoring for the web to create
> > the content. Content authors either need to be educated in applying
> > semantic structure to their documents, or the conversion of the
> material
> > should be left to someone in the web team.
>
> ...or the available tools (in the example case, MS Word) simply can't do
> the right thing by itself, no matter who is using it.
>
> > 2. By auto converting from Word to PDF with a source document that has
> no
> > accessibility (I'm guessing as tables are used for layout that other
> > structures are also missing - heading etc) you are ending up with an
> > inaccessible PDF. The simple rule of rubbish in - rubbish out (talking
> > about the quality of the mark-up/tagging, not the actual content).
>
> No. Tables are used for layout because tables provide end-users with
> layout capabilities in addition to semantic-structure capabilities.
>
> The problem is simply that software developers have yet to provide
> conventional facilities to allow users to distinguish layout tables from
> tabular data when it comes to generating PDF files. It's not hard; it's just
> not been done yet. (just as Word doesn't yet support table row headers).
>
> > 3. Whilst PDFs *can be* a million times more accessible than they used
> to
> > be (if created properly), they still don't provide the best medium for
> > delivering Web content. There are plenty of discussions on that in the
> > archives of this discussion list...
>
> I don't want to re-start the "good format for the web" wars unless
> absolutely necessary! I'll leave it at these hopefully non-controversial
> points...
>
> 1) There are legitimate reasons to publish in PDF.
> 2) PDF provides a vehicle for making content from ANY source accessible.
> 3) The original question had to do with solving an accessibility problem
> in PDF
>
> Also note that the problem reported is NOT specific to PDF but is in fact
> the artifact of an authoring tool. As such, the problem also affects Word,
> HTML, etc.. not just PDF.
>
> > My suggestion would be to re-consider why you are using PDF to publish
> what
> > sounds like Web content (as distinct from a document you simply wish to
> > share over the Internet) in the first place.
>
> On what basis does it "sound like web content"? The original question had
> to do with table structure - not exactly a "web content specific" issue.
>
> > Most of the reasons people
> > give for this are a little misled (I need people to be able to print it
> > etc...) and other reasons like SEO have not even been considered.
>
> I am tempted, but I'm not going there! (on this thread, anyhow)
>
> > If you have a genuine requiremtn to publish in PDF then to get accessible
> > PDFs you need to either:
> >
> > 1. educate your content creators into applying semantic markup and also
> > applying post-conversion QA *and *cleaning up any tag soup/apply
> missing
> > mark-up
> >
> > 2. have someone apply mark-up to the document professionally either pre
> > or post conversion...there are pros and cons to both approaches but
> both are
> > pretty labor intensive.
>
> How is this advice PDF-specific? It seems the same advice that would be
> required for authoring accessible content from any format.
>
> Duff Johnson
> Appligent Document Solutions
> http://www.appligent.com
>