Misconceptions Surrounding PDF Accessibility

This is something which bothers me enormously.  The following can be found on the AGIMO Web Content Accessibility Guidelines:

Although there has been some progress in making it possible for people who are blind or vision-impaired to use online PDF forms, this option is considered inaccessible for most users. It is often possible to design online forms using non-PDF techniques. See, for example, http://www.mandoforms.com, which provides guides and tools for making online forms accessible.”

This information is incorrect, PDF documents and forms can be completely accessible and PDF is and has been for quite some time an ISO Standard.

Adobe are constantly actively participating with Standards groups to improve and enhance the platform and provide extensive up to date information regarding creating accessible PDFs.

The information contained in the Web Publishing Guidelines published by AGIMO are out of date and do not include accessibility information for Flex Applications or the Flash PlatformAGIMO are currently running a Focus Group discussing the rewriting of these Guidelines and need to pay particular attention to the Accessibility Guidelines, to allay any further misconceptions regarding accessibility and the PDF and Flash Platforms.  Both Platforms are open source.

Disclaimer: I do not work for Adobe, I do run the ACT Adobe Products User Group for which I do not get paid, this is a Community group and not a Vendor group, many people other than myself donate their time to this group.  I have worked with Adobe Partner companies in the past and did own my own Macromedia Premiere Partner company until 2002.

It should be noted that the above AGIMO links are to archived content and not the current Web Publishing Guidelines.  The reason this post has been made is because Agencies are still using this outdated content which is quite often republished in their Corporate CMS and used by web content publishing teams as the most current information.

It should also be noted that the most current Web Publishing Guide does not address the above types of content, namely PDF and Flash Platform content.  These types of content are addressed by HREOC and the information given by HREOC clearly states that ideally web content should be made available in at least three formats, being HTML, PDF and RTF.

***UPDATE*** Thursday 6 August, 2009
Adobe’s latest accessibility guidelines can be found here.

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