We shared the following about Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader at the CSUN conference:
Adobe is working on major accessibility improvements to Acrobat and Reader. Among the expected improvements, enhanced support for accessibility in PDF forms utilizing Adobe’s XML Forms Architecture (XFA) and accessibility support for PDF Portfolios are important for many users.
Adobe is building in support for IAccessible2, a robust accessibility interface provided by The Linux Foundation that allows rich information about both PDF forms and PDF Portfolios to be made available to assistive technologies. Adobe works with assistive technology vendors to ensure that they are aware of ongoing work that impacts support for PDF, and, at the appropriate time, will be providing builds to vendors that are part of Adobe’s Assistive Technology Vendor Program.
These improvements will not impact form authoring practices, but will improve the functionality of existing PDF/XFA forms and portfolios. Accessibility improvements are currently planned for the next major release of Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader.
Posts in Category "PDF"
We shared the following about Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader at the CSUN conference:
As the leader of Adobe’s accessibility team, I am proud of the commitments Adobe has made to the mission of accessibility and needs of individuals with disabilities. Adobe produces innovative software that enables the development of content that is visually rich and highly interactive, and as a result rendering that content in a productive way for people with visual disabilities can be a challenge – one we take seriously.
Adobe has worked on accessibility standards committees in the U.S. and internationally, including: the W3C’s WCAG 2.0, ATAG 2.0, Timed Text/DFXP, HTML5, and Protocols and Formats working groups; the U.S. Access Board’s TEITAC subcommittee; and the PDF Universal Accessibility work group at AIIM. Two important goals of our participation are to help ensure that accessibility standards are effective at meeting the needs of those with disabilities and to promote technological neutrality. From an accessibility perspective, we believe that developers should be able to use any technology as long as they are able to deliver content that meets accessibility standards and end-user needs.
Adobe Flash and PDF (which is now an ISO standard – ISO 32000-1) both provide support for accessibility, but it is important for authors and developers to learn best practices and understand user needs in order to deliver results that take advantage of the unique capabilities of the formats and that allow all users to access the information and functionality. Authors sometimes will make a trade-off between producing a visually interesting application in a timely fashion and adhering to accessibility requirements. Other times, accessibility gets left to be dealt with at the end of a project that has a firm end-date and when other features take longer than expected, accessibility or other items fall off the schedule. Government agencies don’t get to make these trade-offs as they are bound by law to make their services accessible, but commercial entities don’t have the same requirements and often overlook the needs of people with disabilities when creating web experiences and documents.
Despite our best intentions, Adobe overlooked the needs of people with disabilities in our recently-launched Open Government web site, which failed to meet certain accessibility best practices. Some customers have contacted us and a few bloggers pointed out the issues and we are working to improve the Open Government site. We apologize to everyone who attempted to access the site and was unable to do so. With the benefit now of seeing the site in its present state rather than the initially-planned more dynamic and interactive version, the team is recreating the site using a combination of HTML and Flash. Several improvements to the current Flash-based site have been addressed already. My hope for this post and the intention of the Open Government site is to help other developers learn from this example, and improve their own development practices of visually rich web sites for access by all users.
Whether users need to use assistive technologies such as screen readers or magnifiers, operate their computer with the keyboard alone, view larger text sizes, view captions or subtitles for audio information, or utilize many other accessibility features, these features already exist in Adobe products. And while these are not perfect in all products yet, we are dedicated to enabling our tools to handle accessibility in robust and reliable ways.
If you are interested in learning more about accessibility in Adobe products, I’m providing some interesting links below. As always, we value the feedback of our customers and end users, so let us know your thoughts.
For more information about PDF accessibility:
For more information about Flash accessibility:
PDF and Flash accessibility training resources:
Adobe accessibility compliance statements:
I’ve received several comments from users who say that they can’t locate the accept button for the Reader license agreement. I’ve written back to a number of the commenters to try to get steps to reproduce this issue but have not been able to get information to help me isolate the problem.
If anyone is having this problem, please let me know by commenting but when you comment please provide any information that you think might be relevant, such as the operating system and version, version of Adobe Reader, any assistive technology you are using, and what steps you take to get the message and to try to find the accept button.
If you’d prefer to not share this information in the public comments, just add a comment asking to be contacted and I’ll send an email address to send info to. Thanks.
All users encounter Flash-based content and PDF documents regularly, and Adobe wants NVDA users to have a positive experience. Therefore, Adobe is funding NVAccess to help address the goals to “Improve support for Adobe Reader” and “Add support for Adobe Flash embedded in Browsers. This work will benefit not only Flash and PDF, but also help users access content and applications developed with Adobe Flex and interactive forms developed with Adobe LiveCycle.
NVDA developers have already done some work to enhance access to PDF in the current release. We’re looking forward to additional improvements progress that will surely be made in the coming months!
There’s a new document to check out if you develop interactive forms using LiveCycle Designer, whether you do so in an environment where you simple save the forms to PDF in Designer or you make use of Adobe’s LiveCycle Forms ES product to produce your forms from the XDP XML file that LiveCycle creates. The new document is available at http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/products/livecycle/pdf/LiveCycle8_2AccessibilityGuidelines.pdf. Please let us know if you have comments, questions, or suggestions.
InDesign authors often ask about generating accessible PDF files. To help respond to this, we worked with David Blatner of InDesignSecrets.com to combine our accessibility experience with his deep knowledge of InDesign so that we could produce a document that would be useful to InDesign authors interested in accessibility.
The document is located at http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/pdfs/accessibledocswithindesignCS4.pdf but you might also be interested in the InDesign product accessibility page for additional information.
Please pass on any comments.
Tomorrow is the final webinar in the series offered by The Paciello Group. The final session is on Interactive PDF forms, using Adobe Acrobat and Adobe LiveCycle Designer. The free webinar is at noon EDT on Wednesday April 8, 2009.
Information about how to join the webinar is available at http://www.paciellogroup.com/blog.
The session will be captioned live and offered as an archived session for asynchronous viewing.
Open question – what topics would you like to see covered in future webinars?
The Paciello Group is doing a series of free webinars on PDF and Flash accessibility. The first webinar on PDF accessibility and WCAG 2.0 was recorded for asynchronous viewing, and the slides from the PDF accessibility talk are available for download.
Next week there are two additional webinars. March 31 the topic is Flash accessibility and WCAG 2.0, and April 1 the topic is PDF forms and WCAG 2.0 (Correction: the PDF Forms webinar is April 8. See the Paciellogroup blog for complete information).
All of the 90-minute webinars are captioned as real-time events (using Adobe Acrobat Connect) and the captions are included in the recorded sessions.
The webinars will be held at noon Eastern time at http://my.adobe.acrobat.com/wcag2. You can find out more about the webinars at the Paciello Group’s blog – see the post titled The Paciello Group and Adobe Present WCAG 2.0 Accessibility Webinars for Flash and PDF for more information. Set your calendars!
WebAIM released the results of a survey of screen reader users and the results are interesting for what they tell us about HTML use, but the commentary around user’s thoughts on Flash content and PDF documents is of particular interest at Adobe. The results state that 71% of screen reader users responding feel that Flash content is very difficult (34%) or somewhat difficult (37%) to use, and 48% of screen reader users responding feel that PDF documents are very difficult (17%) or somewhat difficult (31%) to use. I think that it is worth putting some additional context around these numbers.
Given that the Flash player has supported accessibility since 2001 when Player 6 was released, and the Flash authoring tool provides support for developers to add accessibility to Flash content, why are Flash developers not adding necessary information to their projects? Some are, to be certain — there are examples of Flash being used properly such as what is offered at Social Security (http://ssa.gov/pgm/flash/overviewcaptioned.htm) and the U.S. Department of Education (http://federalstudentaid.ed.gov/mystory/index.html) web sites, but you don’t need to look too far to find inaccessible examples.
Flash is a tool to make content, but many developers aren’t providing the necessary information. We’ve published books with information relevant to the topic such as Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance which I contributed chapters to and Universal Design for Web Applications: Web Applications that Reach Everyone which Matt May on the Adobe accessibility team co-authored with Wendy Chisholm. We also have information available at the Adobe Accessibility web site — please point these resources out to Flash developers who don’t make their content accessible.
The story is similar for PDF documents – there is tooling readily available to make PDF documents and forms accessible, and many authors do take the time to add necessary accessibility information, but not everyone does. For PDF, please point authors to the Acrobat 9 accessibility guides at http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/products/acrobat/ or to the Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance book chapter on PDF.
I feel that it is important to not over generalize from the WebAIM survey data for Flash and PDF. It is fair to say that users are rating these formats less favorably than any of us would like to see but that does not mean that the formats are not accessible. Users have interacted with examples in these formats from which they have formed impressions but that does not mean that developing accessible content in Flash or PDF is impossible. This idea is echoed in Adrian Higginbotham’s comments to the WebAIM blog announcement of the survey results where he acknowledges challenges with some Flash content but finds success with others.
Flash and PDF are tools and the accessibility of the content depends on whether the developer is making an effort to produce accessible content. Please encourage authors and developers to handle accessibility properly.
Adobe Reader 9 is out and I wanted to point out where to download Reader and to mention that there is a new document available to help screen reader users understand how to access PDF.
The Guide was created in conjunction with AFB Consulting (the consulting arm of the American Foundation for the Blind) and provides information for users of two tools (JAWS and Window-Eyes) to help understand what is possible and expected when interacting with different types of PDF documents that are commonly found online. The types are PDF documents that are:
- tagged correctly for accessibility
- untagged, with no author attention to accessibility
- scanned documents
- interactive forms
Helping users understand the differences between these documents and how their assistive technologies can be best used is an important step toward efficient user of PDF files by screen reader users. We hope that this guide is useful, and are interested in any comments.
The guide is presently available as a PDF file, but will also be available as a series of HTML pages soon.
The guide and reader 9 can both be accessed from the Reader 9 accessibility page, at http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/products/reader/.