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RE: questions about accessible pdfs


From: julian.rickards@ndm.gov.on.ca
Date: Feb 24, 2004 7:07AM

I create accessible PDFs on a regular basis but I am working on a PC. I
can't imagine that OS is a restriction (although maybe Linux hasn't caught
up, yet!) When I started creating accessible PDFs (October 2002), there were
application restrictions - only Word 2000 (and higher) and Adobe products
(InDesign, PageMaker) were capable of creating accessible PDFs, I don't know
if the application restrictions have been resolved. The issue was that the
document structure, headings, alternative text for images, etc, were not
passed to Distiller with any other application - this is not to say that
Word 97 or WordPerfect or other application did not use headings and so on,
it is just that the document structure was not sent to Distiller by any of
the other applications, the information sent was just text size and font so
that it looked like a heading but it was not tagged with the heading tag. In
a sense, it would be like transfering <h1> and getting <p><font
size="xx-large"><b> - the appearance of a heading would be there but the
document structure would be lost.

Personally, my opinion is that if the content is available in HTML,
accessible HTML that is, then the PDF is just another format of the same
information and if necessary, does not need to be made accessible because
accessibility is provided through the web page. In my work, the documents I
produce that must be accessible PDFs are the only form of this information
so they must be made accessible.

If you have accessible web pages, you don't need to go to the trouble of
text pages.

Julian Rickards
Digital Publications Distribution Coordinator
Publications Services Section
Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines
Phone: (705) 670-5608
Fax: (705) 670-5690

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jeff Finlay [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]

> Hi, we're working with a designer to develop a print user's guide for
> our PBS telecast on accessibility in online learning in April. We had
> asked her to design an accessible pdf but it appears that one can only
> do so on a PC rather than a MAC, which she uses (with Quark). Is this
> correct?
> We have decided, in the interests of expediency, to have her create a
> plain text alternative to the pdf guide. Is there anything
> important to
> know regarding requirements and restrictions for the alternative text
> version? The pdf guide has a photos and screen shots of web pages but
> other than that is mainly text.

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