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Re: Section 508 (m)


From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Jan 21, 2004 1:35PM

On Wed, 21 Jan 2004, Yith wrote:

> I'm working on a web application that as part of its functionality, delivers
> PDFs and Doc files (and other file types), from other systems, to users of
> my application

Then the material is not accessible, by design. The best you can do, apart
from changing that situation itself, is to declare clear and loud what
the formats of the documents are. Not just in HTTP headers but also in
plain text near the links to them. All rest is most probably just noise.
If you're not accessible, at least say it honestly and precisely.

(Minimally, you could put "(PDF)" and "(MS Word)" after the link. Blind
people might prefer having the explanation _before_ the link, though.)

> According to Section 508 (m), I must supply links to accessibile readers on
> the page where I present those documents.

Are you under an obligation to comply with Section 508? Then read in it
detail and draw the conclusions. If it says that it's OK to have material
in PDF and MS Word format only, if you just have a "click here to download
the kewl readers" link, then so be it. Good luck. But you won't find any
actually _accessible_ readers for those formats. I mean in real life, as
opposite to vendor brochures. So you might decide that it would be an
undue burden, since you would have to _write_ such software first.

If you are not legally obliged to comply with Section 508, ignore the rule
that requires links to "accessible readers". It's just comparable to
<noframes>Your stoopid browser is too old! Click HERE to download
the real Netscape 3 browser! And get a life too!</noframes>
(Actually, they're often more insulting, and more foolish.)

People who need and and can use GhostScript or OpenOffice will get them
and learn to use them, hopefully. There's little point in making each page
with links to PDF or Word documents to advertize such software, still
less any inferior products. People may need help with such software, but
they need real help, not some formally-required naked links all around.

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

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