WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: PDF vs. HTML


From: mmoore
Date: Jul 30, 2004 8:02PM

Gutten tag Ineke,

I agree with you - this is the reason that we recommend that people using
pdf's or any other plug-in do two things. First check to see if the plug-in
is accessible and second provide a link to acquire the plug-in.

In general I much prefer to present content in html over any other format.
It has more predictable results and requires less expertise to get to the
content on the part of the user, particularly when using assistive
technologies. That said, as developers we still must satisfy our client's
wishes to use other forms of content. The main reasons that I have heard
for desiring pdfs seems to be that it is much more difficult to alter this
type of content so it makes sense from a legal standpoint. Also pdfs can
produce better results when printed but you can achieve very good results
using stylesheets. The final reason is the ability to use scanned
documents, saving considerable development costs over recreating the
content. Unfortunately this is also where the most frequent accessibility
issues occur.

What we really need is a quantum shift in attitude about publishing on the
WWW. If the information that we place on the web is worth publishing then
it should be easily available to everyone. If it is not worth taking the
effort to make it accessible we should ask ourselves if it is really worth
publishing at all.

Well enough of a soap box for tonight. (Must be the election season)


-----Original Message-----
From: inekemaa [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Friday, July 30, 2004 5:48 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] PDF vs. HTML

Hello Mike,

You wrote:
>Actually even scanned documents can be made to be accessible with the
>version of Adobe. OCR functionality is built in. Contact Greg Pisocky
>Adobe for more details.

PDF can be made accessible, but how many people downloaded the Acrobat
reader for reading pdf-files?
In Germany it is only 10%. (http://www.webhits.de, link: web barometer) .

Ineke van der Maat