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PDF access: which tools are right (and accessible) for which tasks?

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From: Jennifer Sutton
Date: Feb 28, 2006 5:50PM


Joe and other interested parties:

I've taken the liberty of changing the subject line to better reflect
the orientation of my post.

Joe wrote, in part:


>How about a few hundred for Acrobat Pro?
>
>>JS: Hey, yeah. How about it? Do you wanna send me a check, Joe? <smile>

>>You can choose, I gather, between Acrobat Standard (supposedly
>>about $270 US vs. nearly $400 for Pro). The differences between
>>them confuse me.



>>Does anybody want to take a stab at clarifying which tool is right
>>for which task(s), with a focus on accessibility of features for
>>screen reader users?



>>Maybe there's a page on Adobe's site that I have missed.

>>I gather that Adobe Standard (or whatever) provides MUCH better
>>access, but I sure haven't been able to afford it since I learned
>>about it back in September. I happen to be a consultant who isn't
>>getting rich in the accessibility "biz, but maybe when I change
>>jobs, in a few weeks, I can beg for my employer to accommodate me
>>with this product, along with other products I may need. At least
>>I'm informed enough to be aware that my asking could be beneficial
>>to me and my future employer.

I am serious. I need to know which to ask for -- (standard or Pro)
since I am very likely to need to be working with PDFs regularly, and
they could need to be authored/modified and/or read by me using a
screen reader. I'd like to be prepared to convert docs from
proprietary PDF to open standards; that is very likely to become a
part of my job which isn't in the U.S. Federal Government, by the way
(not that that should honestly matter), except that Section 508 will not apply.

>>Let me emphasize here that I am not looking for a hand-out. I only
>>believe that AT users should have equivalent access to what
>>non-disabled people have for free. My daily PDF reading efforts
>>assure me I don't have that, still, and I would say that, as far as
>>I have been able to determine from reading, the authoring tools
>>don't make it easy for developers to give it to me.

>>There's a spirit that I gather, from my reading of U.S. laws, that
>>suggests that equivalent access shouldn't cost us pwds extra, but
>>I'm not a lawyer, so maybe I over-read the spirit of things. I
>>guess only the "letter of the law" counts, when/if it even does.


>>Let me cite my sources regarding the added functionality of the
>>tools that must be purchased.
This:
Review: Adobe Acrobat 7.0 full version offers far more accessibility
features than
free version
http://kestrell.livejournal.com/139455.html

And this:
Where does accessibility lie?: Coda to Adobe Acrobat 7.0 review
http://kestrell.livejournal.com/139750.html.
[


Is this description true? It's "only" a blog, so it might not be,
though I don't have reason to doubt it.

Reading these two posts makes me wish I were a student, again, though
as a Ph.D. student, I wasn't lucky enough to have gone to school in a
state that ever gave me book vouchers (or any vouchers). Maybe
everybody in Canada gets them, even any of the adults who're employed.

As this blogger suggests, I don't think many blind folks know about
the different levels of access in Standard, or Pro, or whatever, so
maybe Adobe might want to plug the fact that if you pay, you get more
*real* access.

Please do correct me if I've not understood about the level of access
that buying some version or another of Adobe's tools provides. I'd
like "the facts," please, rather than a rant.

and Joe continues (after a bit of my snippage):
The PDF/Universal Access committee, whose telephone call I will be
joining in four minutes, intends to do the same.



And I respond:

I've heard of this committee, via vague rumblings, for the last year
or so. When I try to independently research it, I find this site:
http://www.aiim.org/standards.asp?ID=27861

What am I missing? Am I simply not easily impressed? Am I tired of
waiting and hoping for substance to come out of meetings?

Perhaps, Joe, you will appreciate the nod to some Canadian lyrics when I say:
"I ain't seen nothin', yet."

I'd love to hear more about the good concrete news from Adobe. How
about some report on actions/substantive outcomes/timelines that may
happen as a result of this Committee's efforts?

In the meantime, I'll continue the only safe practice -- consistently
having to download every PDF file I need (assuming that I am alerted,
in advance, that the doc's a PDF). Clicking on direct links
regularly crashes my VERY up-to-date Window-Eyes and Win XP/IE, but
maybe that's because I get a little impatient when I think I've
opened a "normal" Web page, only to find out that the computer's had
to do back-flips to process a huge file -- back-flips to which I
wasn't alerted beforehand. And even at that, I'll continue to keep
my fingers crossed when I open a downloaded file, though I apparently
might not have to cross them if I had an extra couple hundred cash to
toss around. I struggle with crossing my fingers, while typing, but
soon, I may be successful in mastering it.

Thanks for sharing more about the Committee's work, Joe, if others
are interested, and you're so inclined/able. I'd like to be impressed.

I'm looking forward to some constructive and informative dialog on this topic.

Best,
Jennifer