WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

RE: PDF for accessability


From: julian.rickards@ndm.gov.on.ca
Date: Mar 26, 2004 7:05AM

> -----Original Message-----

> You are right about the various software but the WordPerfect 8.0 is a
> nightmare. To tag it with the document structure is a long
> and laborious (and torturous) process, even more so for long
> documents.
> I know that Microsoft and Adobe are totally compatible but the other
> software....yikes. Do you only test in Internet Explorer?
> Most of our
> clients are using Netscape v 4.79. Now you know my dilemma.

No, I don't test in IE because it is not a browser function but rather an
Acrobat/Acrobat Reader function. Ok, wait a sec, perhaps you are referring
to JAWS which works as a layer on top of IE (or any other Windows app). No,
I haven't tested in JAWS, I test in Acrobat using the Check Accessibility
function. My assumption is that if Acrobat says the PDF is accessible, then
that is the best I can do. If JAWS or other screen reading app still cannot
read the PDF, then I cannot fix it and it is an issue with Acrobat, not my

I don't create Word forms at work so I don't have any experience with making
them accessible - I should over the next couple of months train myself. I
don't know how well JAWS works with NN4.x - if your clients are using that
version of NN and JAWS is not working for them, then they should upgrade. I
know that is a statement that many of us don't like to say but if they
require a software to work for them and NN is interfering, then it is their
responsibility to resolve the issue.

In my work as an accessible web designer, I don't cater to any browsers but
follow the W3C WAI Guidelines and Checkpoints and other recommendations and
suggestions of other accessible web designers. If my site is accessible but
some users can't use it because of their software issues, that is not my
problem and neither should it be yours.

Perhaps you should consider not using PDF at all if your clients still have
problems with accessible PDFs - perhaps you should create HTML pages instead
and PDFs for those who *can* use them as an alternate format.

As I said, if you can take the WordPerfect documents, save them in Word
format and then PDF them in Word 2000 or later, then you will be fine. At
work, our ministry is standardized on Office 97 so in order for me to
produce accessible PDFs, I was authorized to purchase and use Word 2002 (the
current version at the time) - the upgrade cost was only $125 Cdn, I suspect
that you may be able to get Word 2003 for a similar price - you only need
one copy for the person creating the accessible PDFs - that is my role for a
number of departments in our ministry (small ministry, ~250 people).

Let me know if I can be of any more assistance (one gov't employee to



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

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