Accessibility and PDFs

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Presentation by Gian Wild to the Victoria Online Seminar in Melbourne, 14 October 2010.

Text of Accessibility and PDFs

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Accessibility and PDFsGian Wild

October 2010findme@gianwild.com.auwww.gianwild.com.au

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What is online accessibility?Online accessibility:The ability for a person with a disability to understand and use a web site, application intranet, or programGoverned by:AHRC: Disability Discrimination ActAchieved by:W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

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Accessibility is important

It allows people with disabilities to:access information like anyone elseinteract with others without being categorised as disabledundertake activities which they are not otherwise able to do

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People with Disabilities

What types of people with disabilities are assisted by an accessible web site?Disabilities affecting visionDisabilities affecting how the mind interprets informationDisabilities affecting movementDisabilities affecting hearing

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Disabilities affecting vision

Types of visual disabilities:BlindnessColour blindnessGlaucomaCataracts

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How do people with visual disabilities access the web?

Assistive technologies:Screen readers or braille readersBraille keyboards or large size keyboardsMagnifiersUser techniques:Increasing text sizeTurning off JavaScriptChanging text and background colour

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Disabilities affecting the mind

Types of cognitive disabilities:Epilepsy & migraineDyslexiaAphasiaProblems with memoryReading disabilities

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Disabilities affecting the mindAssistive technologies:Screen readersSpeech recognition softwareScreen masking softwareHover highlighting softwareDictionary definition softwareUser techniques:Turning off Flash, JavaScript

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Disabilities affecting movement

Types of physical disabilities:Cerebral palsyMotor Neuron DiseaseHuntingtonsParkinsonsQuadriplegia

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Disabilities affecting movementAssistive technologies:JoysticksModified or onscreen keyboardsTouchscreens & headwandsSwitchesUser techniques:Turning off Flash, JavaScriptUsing the keyboard onlyIncreasing text size

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Disabilities affecting hearingTypes of audio disabilities:Profound deafnessHard of hearingAssistive technologies:Speech to text translatorsUser techniques:Open or closed captioning (by the author)

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Legal Requirements

The provision of information and online services through the Worldwide Web is a service covered by the DDA. Equal access for people with a disability in this area is required by the DDA where it can reasonably be provided.

World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Noteshttp://www.hreoc.gov.au/disability_rights/standards/www_3/www_3.html

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Legal PrecedentsJune 1999 August 2000Bruce Maguire lodged a HREOC complaint about the Sydney Olympics web siteHREOC ruled in Maguires favour

September 2000SOCOG ignored HREOC and fined $20,000Legal fees greater than $500,000

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Disability Discrimination Act

Recommends following W3C WCAG, Version 1.0Will be moving to W3C WCAG, Version 2.0AGIMO has a recommended timeframe for federal sites:WCAG2 Level A: December 2012WCAG2 Level AA: December 2015

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AGIMO National Transition StrategyPreparation phase: July Dec 2010Agency website stocktakeWCAG2 conformance checkWebsite infrastructure assessmentCapability assessmentRisk assessmentMitigation projects led by AGIMO

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What does this mean for PDFs?WCAG1 (Level A):

Requires an accessible equivalent for all PDFs:RTF orHTML or Text orWord document

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What does this mean for PDFs?WCAG1 (Level AA):

Above andRequires PDFs to be tagged with accessibility features, such as:HeadingsAlternative text for imagesBookmarksLinks

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The AGIMO PDF projectPeople with disabilities make more complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission about PDF documents than any other format40 submissions to the AGIMO PDF project including those from:AdobeGovernment departmentsAssistive technology manufacturersPeople with disabilitiesAccessibility specialists

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The AGIMO PDF projectVision Australia tested a variety of PDFs with low vision and blind users. They found:There was a strong negative attitude about PDFEven with assistance a tagged PDF was often difficult to useLack of support for certain scanning and navigation features. For more see my blog post:http://www.gianwild.com/2010/06/11/a-few-problems-with-the-concept-of-accessible-pdfs-part-two/

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The AGIMO PDF project

PDFs were tested against the technology-neutral WCAG2.

Different PDFs were tested:Adobe tagged best practice PDFsSpecialist tagged PDFsNon-tagged PDFs

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The AGIMO PDF project

Talked to assistive technology vendors:What is supported?How many people use the technology?What will be supported?

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What does this mean for PDFs?PDF will not be defined as an accessible technology

WCAG2 will require:An accessible equivalent for all PDFs:RTF orHTML or Text orWord document

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ConclusionsPDF is not defined as an accessible technology because:The design of the PDF file (and no universal definition of an accessible PDF)Technical ability of the assistive technologiesSkill of the end user (using an assistive technology with a PDF is different to HTML)

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Some advances in PDF accessibility

For people with severe vision impairments, tagging is essential.

For people with mild visual impairments, physical and cognitive disabilities, BrowseAloud can interpret untagged PDF documents

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Cognitive disabilities and low literacy6.2 million adults have low literacy levels2 million people with dyslexia or specific learning difficulties3 million people with English as a foreign language300,000 people who have a mild visual impairment4 million people with a registered disability

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More on accessibilityeGovernment Accessibility ToolkitWebAIMW3C Web Accessibility Initiativewww.gianwild.com.auhttp://agimo.govspace.gov.au/category/ accessibility/ Twitter: #accessibilityoz