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Re: PDF remediation


From: Sarah Ferguson
Date: Oct 23, 2017 1:41PM

Thanks for the reviews, Jon. I was able to get a trial for CommonLook
through Andy Baum: <EMAIL REMOVED>

Sarah Ferguson
Web Accessibility Specialist
Department of Digital Communications
Brandeis University *|* 781.736.4259

On Mon, Oct 23, 2017 at 3:31 PM, Metzessible < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:

> Great question! I love complaining about PDF tools.
> I'd honestly never heard of PAVE, so I decided to give it a whirl. It's an
> interesting concept, but leaves much to be imagined in terms of providing
> an actual accessible PDF beyond what a user can do by merely using the
> 'Print' function on the authoring file. It's also really confusing to use,
> as it will tell me there's a problem with the PDF, but it doesn't actually
> show me where the problem is. I'm also irritated that error handling solely
> relies on color formatting. This is probably the most basic accessibility
> mistake a developer can make, which instantly made me suspect the PDF
> results would be extremely subpar. All this is said with the
> acknowledgement that it's hard to complain about free software, since you
> get what you pay for.
> I evaluated AxesPDF recently and received the following errors evaluating
> the software:
> 1. *Syntax error:* Operator ‘h’ is not allowed in the current state.
> 2. *Syntax error:*Operator ‘f’ is not allowed in the current state.
> Unlike free software, I CAN complain about this. For over $700 USD per
> license, I'd expect it to work out of the box, and give me better error
> explanations. I also expect it to be intuitive to use (The UI reminds me of
> one of those old OSX X11 apps from years back), or at least provide a basic
> concept of how the rudimentary workflow is supposed to be managed. It did
> none of these things, and was left irritated after I tried it. I know
> several other SMEs in the field use this software for remediation, but I'm
> not impressed at all with the level of accessible PDF it returns with the
> PDF/UA flag attached. I can go into much further detail about it if anyone
> cares to hear my thoughts about it, but I won't be buying this software
> because of my evaluation.
> I've tried reaching out to CommonLook four times for a demo, and no one has
> ever contacted me. So I can't speak about it as a solution that's any
> better or worse than anything else. However, I use CommonLook Validator
> (the free QA tool they provide) religiously. Quite honestly, I'll never
> understand why anyone would ever rely on a vendor's included accessibility
> checker to evaluate mistakes. You're only going to be looking at the things
> that the vendor understands about a given problem, not according to
> existing standards.
> In any case, if CommonLook GA is similar to Validator, the UI might be a
> bit clunky if you're already having problems training colleagues on how to
> use a program like Acrobat. The errors in Validator provide no explanation
> to why something is considered an error or warning, and it uses language
> which requires a solid understanding of PDF that most people clearly lack
> in general. Also, it cannot seem to identify pagination artifacts at all.
> While it states that for the purpose of testing it marks them as artifacts
> for you, it still shows up as a failure. The reports they generate are very
> helpful, but this (and other issues, like missing BBox attributes which
> clearly exist) must be sanitized from the final report after the fact. This
> can make for a time consuming analysis, especially if you rely on these
> reports for QA, Kirkpatrick training supplements, or for CMMI CM, MM or
> PPQA Process Improvement evidence.
> I've heard great things about Equidox. The price seems a bit high at first
> glance (1200 for 10 licenses for education). However, I don't think you
> need Acrobat for it, which makes it only $120 per person. I'm a bit
> concerned about how astronomical the commercial license would be. The one
> thing that I didn't like was that it was per-page remediation, and very
> visual in how you use it. It seems to take all the things people like about
> using the Touchup Reading Order Panel in Acrobat and makes it usable and
> effective. Also, it's worth noting, I've never seen a PDF from this SASS,
> so I can't speak to it's quality either.
> The one thing I have played around with when I get chances to use it is
> Tesseract for OCR. It's a bit more complex of a tool, but the results are
> amazing. In fact, using Tesseract with Adobe's built-in autotag feature is
> like what would happen if you found some free audio software that could
> make YouTube captions with 90% accuracy. It's really powerful, yet
> extremely confusing and difficult to learn.
> That said, my go to tool is still Acrobat. I use both a mac and PC, but I
> prefer the subtleties of the Mac Acrobat version over the PC version. When
> I'm editing a bunch of tags, it's often easier and less time consuming to
> single-click the tag, then click again to enter it. In later versions of
> Acrobat for the PC, this seems to require extra clicks. But it's not the
> end of the world, and therefore Acrobat is my go-to tool of choice
> regardless. My main problem is that Adobe made the software a Jack of All
> Trades, yet a Master of None. So it handles everything under the sun that
> is related to PDF, but it does them equally badly. That said, one could
> theoretically use the command line to remediate PDFs, but why would anyone
> go through that much trouble? Acrobat is what it is, but it's still the
> defacto industry standard, and will most likely be going forward for the
> foreseeable future. Software companies either try to reinvent the wheel by
> blatantly ignoring the ISO standards, or make something that requires you
> to own Acrobat in the first place.
> Though, I'm actually a service provider myself, so what works for me as a
> PDF a11y expert might not work for your situation. Therefore, I have to
> agree with Bevi that the best solution is to create the most accessible
> authored file you can BEFORE it goes to Acrobat so you have more hair at
> the end of remediation! In fact, you can automate most of your Word file
> backlog using macros and VBA once you have accessible templates in place.
> This makes remediation that much easier, especially since you have the
> original files.
> Jon Metz
> On Mon, Oct 23, 2017 at 2:36 PM, Denis Boudreau < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
> wrote:
> > Thanks Sean, that's very useful to know.
> >
> > /Denis
> >
> > --
> > Denis Boudreau,
> > Accessibility, user experience & inclusive design
> > Cell: +1-514-730-9168
> > Email: <EMAIL REMOVED> [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
> > Twitter: @dboudreau [http://www.twitter.com/dboudreau]
> >
> > On 2017-10-22 2:26:12 PM, Sean Keegan < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> > Hey Denis,
> >
> > > In your experience, how good is it at turning an inaccessible PDF into
> > one we
> > > would consider accessible, or at least WCAG 2.0 AA compliant? If you
> ran
> > a PDF
> > > made accessible with Equidox, would it pass the Acrobat accessibility
> > > checker, or PAC2?
> >
> > Overall, it does a good job with most types of PDF documents. There have
> > been one or two issues with how background images and text are recognized
> > with PDFs originating from Adobe Illustrator, but these seem to have been
> > outlier issues. One thing I do like about the tool is a "sensitivity"
> > slider that sets a zone for the content. By moving the sensitivity
> slider,
> > you can quickly change the regions and zones on the page to include or
> > exclude text content. Another feature that works (mostly) is a Preview
> > option that provides a linearized view of the page content. That helps
> > identify where the logical structure of the page is incorrect.
> >
> > Yes - you can use Equidox to create PDFs that pass the Acrobat
> > accessibility checker. After making corrections in Equidox, I generally
> run
> > the PDF through the Acrobat accessibility checker to perform a quick
> > verification of my edits. So far, the checker only reports the need to
> > perform the manual tests. I have not tested with PAC2.
> >
> > I am encountering some issues with PDFs created from PowerPoint in that
> all
> > images were being recognized, including those that were intended as
> > background content. I suspect these background images were just dropped
> > into the slides and not managed via the Master template. Their
> development
> > team has been very responsive, so I don't expect this to be a problem
> going
> > forward.
> >
> > Take care,
> > Sean
> > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > >
> > > > >