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Re: LongDesc for documents, not websites


From: Duff Johnson
Date: Apr 22, 2011 6:27AM


On Apr 22, 2011, at 1:29 AM, Bevi Chagnon | PubCom wrote:

> Duff wrote:
> " Why post a Word file if you can post a good PDF file instead? :) "
> When the document is a work in progress, PDF isn't feasible.

Ok, I'd assumed we were talking about "final" documents - ie, not a work in progress.

> An editable
> file (a REAL editable file, not the pseudo-editing capabilities in PDF)
> is needed as the document is developed, reviewed, and approved.

...before the document makes it to a "final form" - fair enough.

> Plus, government agencies use Word's track changes as an electronic paper trail
> throughout the life of the document. Only after it's approved and finalized
> does it become a PDF, and usually both the PDF and the Word source file are
> stored somewhere on a server or intranet.
> Many government documents never become PDFs but stay as Word documents. A
> good example are templates for reports, forms, publications, fact sheets,
> and research.

Templates aren't going to need any longdesc....

> So a PDF file is like a one-size-fits-all shirt: it fits some people, but it
> really doesn't fit all.

More on that below.

> My interpretation of Section 508 standards (well, the forthcoming ones) is
> that all information and communication technology must be accessible. So
> that includes the working source files (namely Word) and a final PDF.
> Given that one of the original intents of Section 508 was to give disabled
> federal employees equal access to government information so that they can do
> their job, it then doesn't make sense to have only the final PDF accessible
> but not the working source file. If the working source file isn't
> accessible, that means disabled federal employees aren't able to be on the
> work team that is creating that source file.
> Granted, it might not be feasible to make all working documents fully
> accessible, but there should be a valid attempt to do so.
> In sum, a good accessible PDF is fine for part of the workflow, but not the
> entire workflow.
> --Bevi
> P.S. " Final-form electronic documents are almost by-definition PDF files -
> or so I'd contend."
> Wow, do I disagree! Not from an editor's or designer's viewpoint, that's for
> sure.

I did say "final-form", not "in-progress"....

Naturally, a PDF isn't suitable if the same file is intended for further editing. HOWEVER, PDF files can include attachments, as already noted. Such attachments may be of any type, including Word files. Thus, a PDF may be used as a "delivery truck" for a collection of content.

In at least one workflow I'm aware of, the "containing" PDF is a static representation of the editable document. Attached to that "posting" PDF are the editable Word (or other) file(s) plus any required attachments.

Duff Johnson, CEO
Appligent Document Solutions

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Lansdowne, PA 19050
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