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Re: Accessible PDF with InDesign


From: Bevi Chagnon
Date: Jan 10, 2012 12:54PM

Andrew's right, InDesign CS 5.5 is a vast improvement over CS 5 for making
accessible PDFs from InDesign layout files. Check to see which version your
graphic designer is using. Upgrade to CS 5.5 if necessary.

I don't think the problem is with tags but instead with how the file was
constructed or with your screen reader software. Dave, here are a couple of

1) If your graphic designer was a Quark user and switched to InDesign, she
(or he) might not be constructing the document correctly. Although InDesign
looks similar to Quark, it creates and threads the text file differently
from Quark and this throws Quark users for a loop when they switch to
InDesign. Although the layout might look ok to the human eye, it's a
disaster when we view the file's construction and code, and this can cause
serious problems for accessibility (as well as XML and any other digital
cross-media publishing technology).

2) The designer should have used either of these 2 methods to lay out that
a) One text frame divided into 3 columns, and the text runs from top to
bottom beginning in column 1, through column 2, to column 3.
b) Three separate text frames that are threaded (linked in Quark's
parlance), and the text runs from top to bottom beginning in the first text
frame, into the 2nd text frame, and then into the 3rd text frame.

3) The designer should have a paragraph return (a normal Enter/Return key)
after each name. Sometimes designers incorrectly use line breaks (shift +
Enter) which break the text to the next line but don't create new paragraphs
that are needed for accessibility.

4) Some screen readers run paragraphs together without a pause or drop in
voicing, regardless of how the designer creates the document. Your
description of the problem sounds like this could be the case if all of the
above items were done correctly. If I was blind and had to listen to my text
jumbled together like this, I'd hire a lawyer and start suing the pants off
some of our accessibility technology manufacturers. Their software ignores
paragraph returns, running paragraph after paragraph together into one huge
lump. Instead, their software should be giving an audible cue similar to any
other form of punctuation: that is a pause or dropping of the voice to
signal that a paragraph has ended and a new one is starting.

--Bevi Chagnon
Bevi Chagnon | <EMAIL REMOVED>
PubCom - Trainers, consultants, designers, and developers
Print, Web, Acrobat, XML, eBooks, and Federal Section 508
* It's our 30th Year! *

-----Original Message-----
[mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Andrew

InDesign CS 5.5 has the major improvements you need to make this easier for
the InDesign author to get it right. It sounds like you might just need the
PDF to be tweaked in Acrobat to fix the list issue though. I'd need to know
more about the tags used in the PDF for this area of the document to know
for sure...

-----Original Message-----
[mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Andrews, David B
We have an outside contractor who produces, for us, an annual report - on
paper and an "Accessible PDF version." She switched to Adobe InDesign CS5
this year because she was unable to produce an acceptable PDF with QWARK
Express. Her results with InDesign are better, but not better.

There is one main problem - there is a list of donors at end, in 3 columns.
They have been decolumnized properly in the PDF, with a screen reader, and
they look right on the screen, but there is no space between names. If you
examine them with a screen reader it would look like this,

Chris AndersonDavid AndrewsJames Brown ...

The names are taken out of the columns properly, but no space between names.
The contractor tells me that each one is followed by a return in the source.
She also tried changing to a space followed by return, but no go, the space
doesn't appear.

Any ideas, suggestions, etc.