WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

RE: adobe 6.0 accessibility


From: Terence de Giere
Date: Oct 14, 2003 9:17AM

The use of Acrobat and the PDF format for general use is discussed in a
condemning article by the usability specialist Jakob Nielsen. The
article, entitled "PDF: Unfit for Human Consumption" is located at

There are not just the accessibility issues with the widespread use of
PDF, so there are many arguments to restrict its use. Originally PDF was
conceived as a way to make Adobe's Postscript printer language portable,
and it mostly developed along the lines of press printing document
production. Its widespread use can be attributed to the ease with which
one can create PDF files. It is rare that one finds a PDF formatted for
a computer screen. I encountered one the other day believe it or not.

Compared to HTML, PDF is slow and cumbersome. Many applications can save
to formats other than their native file format, such as HTML, so this
option when available is preferable to PDF, even if it needs to be
cleaned up for the web. Attempting to convert PDF to a more accessible
format puts the content one step further removed from the original
source. Making a tagged PDF file is not necessarily quicker if one
considers that the tags depend a lot on the original document structure
and content may be out sequence. Text boxes and graphics in Word, when
converted to PDF sometimes show up in the wrong places in the main
content and it is necessary to manually move them to the correct place
in the document tag tree, as well as adding descriptive text for images.

Terence de Giere

To subscribe, unsubscribe, suspend, or view list archives,
visit http://www.webaim.org/discussion/