May 7, 2012

WCAG 2.0 and PDF/UA

Harmonization of accessibility standards is a primary goal for Adobe which is why for many years Adobe has worked on the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) working group – our participation was driven by a desire to help define a WCAG 2.0 standard which would be useful for web content that Adobe tools are involved with the authoring or display of, including PDF, Flash, HTML, and more. There is great benefit for developers, authors, and end users when there is an agreed on standard for what constitutes an accessible experience, and it is encouraging to see that WCAG 2.0 is regarded as the primary standard for web accessibility and is referenced by national governments around the world. However, there is more to achieving accessibility than the normative text of WCAG 2.0.

In 2004, Adobe and AIIM started the PDF/UA (Universal Accessibility) activity with the intent of producing standards specific to PDF authoring and presentation which ensure that conforming PDF (ISO 32000-1) files are accessible and usable to all, including users who rely on assistive technology. Today, PDF/UA is ISO 14289-1, a “Final Draft International Standard (FDIS)”, expected to be published later in 2012.

We’ve received many questions about the relationship between PDF/UA and WCAG 2.0. WCAG 2.0 was developed as a technology-independent standard and provides individual (normative) success criteria for accessibility which are general enough to apply across technologies. The W3C’s WCAG working group also provides a growing collection of advisory (non-normative) techniques to offer technology-specific guidance, including a growing set of techniques for HTML, CSS, Scripting, PDF, Flash, and more. Beyond these techniques, developers need to conduct additional research to ensure that the content or applications they create meet the WCAG 2.0 success criteria – for example, a Java developer looking to offer a compliant applet will not find techniques on the W3C site at this time, but may be able to meet WCAG 2.0 if they correctly follow guidance provided elsewhere and evaluate the resulting applet against the WCAG success criteria.

PDF developers need this type of clarity on how to meet WCAG 2.0, and the PDF techniques, while useful, do not presently represent a complete set which encompass all technical requirements for accessibility in all PDF documents. This is where PDF/UA provides help. PDF/UA provides normative technical specifications for the use of the PDF format, defining proper structure and syntax to enable reliable access. This includes identification of necessary tagging structures, how to specify alternative text for images, how to ensure correct Unicode mappings for character glyphs, and many other file, page and object-level specifications, as well as how Reader applications and assistive technologies can fully process PDF/UA conforming files to maximize accessibility.

PDF/UA defines the technical specifications to enable PDF documents to meet WCAG 2.0, but WCAG 2.0 has additional requirements which require an author’s attention. The areas where WCAG 2.0 has additional requirements include time-based media (guideline 1.2), scripting and actions (e.g. success criteria 3.2.1 and 3.2.2), and certain types of content (e.g. success criteria 2.4.4). For these and other additional requirements, the W3C’s technique documents (both general and PDF-specific techniques) provide guidance for authors interested in complying with WCAG 2.0.

PDF/UA clarifies and simplifies the PDF-specific technical requirements to meet WCAG 2.0. Adobe fully supports PDF/UA and intends to use and promote it in our PDF authoring tools. Adobe also plans to support the conforming Reader requirements, which are part of PDF/UA. Authors using Adobe tools such as Adobe Acrobat will be enabled to support PDF/UA as a first and major step toward compliance with WCAG 2.0.

9:00 AM Permalink
March 10, 2012

Video accessibility talk at SXSW 2012

Yesterday Glenn Goldstein from MTV, Craig Cuttner from HBO, Shane Feldman from the National Association of the Deaf, and I spoke at SXSW in Austin, TX. Our topic was “The Future of Access to Digital Broadcast Video” and we covered current policy, tooling, and challenges broadcasters encounter in supporting accessibility for video at scale. Delivering captions for 500 hours of video is a lot of work, but what if you need to caption 100,000 hours every month? We discussed this question and more, much of which is not directly reflected in the slides, but I’m providing the slides here for people to check out.

The Future of Access for Digital Broadcast Video slides

12:54 PM Permalink
January 27, 2012

Adobe at CSUN 2012

Thursday, March 1 is Adobe Day at the CSUN Conference. We’ve got five sessions lined up, all in Elizabeth C (2nd floor):

There’s more to come. (Probably involving hors d’oeuvres.) But for now, mark your calendars, and we’ll see you in San Diego.

1:22 PM Permalink
January 25, 2012

Adobe Accessibility at ATIA 2012

The Assistive Technology Industry Association’s annual conference, ATIA 2012, will be in full swing tomorrow, and our own Greg Pisocky will be appearing in three sessions:

  • “Implementing ISO 14289 (PDF/UA)”, Thursday, January 26 8:00 am to 9:00 am Caribbean 6
  • “eBook Accessibility with Adobe Digital Editions and EPUB”, Thursday, January 26 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm Curacao 3 – 4
  • “Creating Accessible Documents More Efficiently with Adobe InDesign CS5.5”, Friday January 27 9:20 am to 10:20 am, Caribbean 3 and 4

That’s just the first outing of the year. In February, Adobe will be presenting at Techshare India, the 6th European eAccessibility Forum, and the CSUN Conference. We’ll keep you updated with sessions and times.

5:41 PM Permalink
January 16, 2012

Acrobat X action for InDesign CS5.5 files

Adobe InDesign CS5.5 added a number of new features to make the accessible production of complex documents easier. Now the InDesign team has added an Action for use with Adobe Acrobat X. Once you install it, the Action will walk you through the most common steps for polishing up InDesign documents, including setting a document language, running Acrobat’s accessibility checker, and outputting an optimized, tagged PDF. The InDesign site has all the info, and the InDesign Action for Acrobat X can be found here.

2:40 AM Permalink
January 5, 2012

Window-Eyes App Now Available For Digital Editions 1.8.1

Support for Digital Editions with assistive technologies continues to improve and this update is a tip for users of the Window-Eyes screen reader.

GW Micro has published an app designed to provide support for Digital Editions 1.8.1 that’s comparable to the support provided by other screen readers including JAWS, VoiceOver and NVDA. From the Window-Eyes Control Panel, Press ALT-A to get to the App Menu, and select AppGet. When the list of available apps is displayed, You’ll find Digital Editions in the “Program Enhancements” group.

Digital Editions 1.8.1 can be found at:

http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/digitaleditions1-8/

Comments are welcome as always.

4:03 PM Permalink
January 3, 2012

WCAG 2.0 Techniques for PDF

Authors looking for additional guidance on how to meet the W3C WCAG 2.0 for PDF documents can now look to the W3C techniques repository for additional guidance. Techniques for PDF authored over the past two years since the release of the last update to the WCAG techniques (which included techniques for Flash) are now part of the larger collection of techniques. View the full set of WCAG 2.0 techniques or view PDF techniques on their own.

These techniques provide a clear path for demonstrating that a PDF document can meet the most current accessibility standard from the W3C.

As with the Flash techniques for WCAG 2.0 and techniques for all other technologies, the PDF techniques are presented as examples which the WCAG Working Group viewed as sufficient to meet WCAG 2.0 success criteria, not as the only way to meet any given success criteria. Authors may discover a new way to address a success criteria, in a way not yet covered in the existing techniques, and be able to demonstrate why it is sufficient. The techniques offer a collection of strategies that have been reviewed by the working group, but the techniques collections for all technologies are works in progress as there are always additional ways to address success criteria.

The table below provides a listing of the WCAG level A and AA success criteria and the PDF-specific and General techniques that authors can employ to meet success criteria. It is worth noting that not all success criteria for WCAG 2.0 have technology-specific techniques. For example 1.3.3 (Sensory characteristics) has only general techniques, and in this case and similar ones I reference the relevant general techniques section. In some cases there are relevant general techniques as well as PDF-specific techniques and for these both are linked.

Update: I neglected to acknowledge the hard work of Mary Utt from The Paciello Group on the PDF techniques initially, but Mary was a tremendous help in moving this work forward and I offer many thanks. Many people on the WCAG working group also worked very hard to help make these techniques reach this final stage. Thanks to all!

Please send general comments, comments or questions on the techniques, or suggestions for new techniques.

WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria and Applicable Techniques for PDF
Success Criteria Level Techniques
1.1.1 Non-text Content A
1.2.1 Audio-only and Video-only (Prerecorded) A
1.2.2 Captions (Prerecorded) A
1.2.3 Audio Description or Media Alternative (Prerecorded) A
1.2.4 Captions (Live) AA
1.2.5 Audio Description (Prerecorded) AA
1.3.1 Info and Relationships A
1.3.2 Meaningful Sequence A
1.3.3 Sensory Characteristics A
1.4.1 Use of Color A
1.4.2 Audio Control A
1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum) AA
1.4.4 Resize text AA
1.4.5 Images of text AA
2.1.1 Keyboard A
2.1.2 No Keyboard Trap A
2.2.1 Timing Adjustable A
2.2.2 Pause, Stop, Hide A
2.3.1 Three Flashes or Below Threshold A
2.4.1 Bypass Blocks A
2.4.2 Page Titled A
2.4.3 Focus Order A
2.4.4 Link Purpose (In Context) A
2.4.5 Multiple ways AA
2.4.6 Headings and Labels AA
2.4.7 Focus Visible AA
3.1.1 Language of page A
3.1.2 Language of parts AA
3.2.1 On Focus A
3.2.2 On Input A
3.2.3 Consistent Navigation AA
3.2.4 Consistent Identification AA
3.3.1 Error Identification A
3.3.2 Labels or Instructions A
3.3.3 Error Suggestion AA
3.3.4 Error Prevention (Legal, Financial, Data) AA
4.1.1 Parsing A
  • Not Applicable: PDF is not implemented using markup languages
4.1.2 Name, Role, Value A
10:49 PM Permalink
December 21, 2011

Additional Enhancements in Adobe Connect Closed Captioning Pod

In March we released a closed captioning pod for Adobe Connect 8, and now we have a new version with additional features. Version 1.5 of the Connect Captioning Pod is available for free download.

This version still has all of the features available in the earlier version, but the new version also introduces the following features:

  • Additional preset for caption providers using Streamtext. Streamtext provides an online caption delivery service utilized by hundreds of real-time captioners in North America and Europe.
  • Support for word-by-word caption delivery and caption correction. End users can receive captions as they are entered by the stenocaptioner rather than waiting for a full line of captions to be delivered. Stenocaptioners also have the ability to correct mistakes in the captions by backspacing to delete errors and retype the correction. This feature is an option for the caption provider – at present Streamtext and CaptionFirst support this feature.
  • Support for in-meeting captioners. Sometimes a meeting is scheduled when a stenocaptioner is not available, or budget doesn’t allow the hiring of a professional. For these situations, it is now possible to assign a participant the role of captioner. The captioner’s work will be viewed in the caption pod and can be exported to text or HTML and is archived as part of recorded sessions just like captions delivered by stenocaptioners. In-meeting captioners are less expensive but also typically deliver less high-quality captions for end-users. If experimenting with in-meeting captioners, make sure to ask end-users who need captions how effective the results are.
  • Updated documentation for caption provider implementation is provided in the download package. Any caption service can deliver captions to Adobe Connect’s caption pod with this information.

Some images of the new pod:

As with the last version of this pod, development work was done by eSyncTraining, and we hope that you are as pleased with the results as we are!

The new pod, and documentation for incorporating it into your Connect meeting, is available now: Connect Captioning Pod v1.5 at the Adobe Connect Exchange.

11:19 AM Permalink
November 16, 2011

Digital Editions 1.8.1 Available

A new version of Adobe Digital Editions is available, and with it comes additional improvements for accessibility.

Users relying on VoiceOver, JAWS, or NVDA, and keyboard-only or high-contrast users can make use of this application to read electronic books, including books from booksellers such as Barnes and Noble and Waterstones, and books loaned via public libraries which use OverDrive for electronic book delivery.

In this release we’ve addressed several issues identified internally and externally, including the major enhancement request which was to enable continuous reading. We’ve also shared information with assistive technology vendors who have done significant work on their end to increase support for this application.

The installer is available at http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/digitaleditions1-8/. Of particular interest is the “Getting Started” book that is installed with the application, as this book details keyboard shortcuts and other information related to accessibility support.

I’m interested in any feedback that people may have on this release, as well as requests for future enhancements.

UPDATE 1/5/2012: Window-Eyes 7.x now supports Digital Editions 1.8.1 through a downloadable app. More information is available at the blog post announcing the availability of this app.

11:19 AM Permalink
October 3, 2011

New Work on Closed Captioning

Supporting accessibility is an important aspect of supporting video, and closed captioning is of particular interest lately with the release of the FCC’s proposed rules for captioning. The FCC’s proposed rules are to fulfill the requirements of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 and are specifically targeted to broadcast video when delivered via the Internet.

A key question around captioning is the best file format for caption data. The W3C’s TTML is a standards which is commonly used, and SMPTE has extended this standard for an additional format, commonly known as SMPTE-TT. In addition to these, the WHAT-WG recently invented a new format, named WebVTT (based on a previous format, SRT). Authors are not surprisingly unsure as to the right format to use. As appealing as a single caption format may be, it currently seems unlikely that a single format will meet the needs of all providers of captions.

Adobe has helped those delivering video via Flash deliver closed captioning for several years. Flash CS3 included support for TTML (then known as DFXP) back in 2007 and has provided similar support for TTML in the Open Source Media Framework (OSMF). Our most current work on captioning addresses other standards for captioning:

  • Support for SMPTE-TT in OSMF. We’ve developed a plugin for OSMF to support SMPTE-TT. This is freely available and licensed under the BSD software license, so even if you aren’t using OSMF it is possible to utilize the source code to support SMPTE-TT in other environments. This plugin supports robust positioning and formatting for closed captions.
  • Participation in a community group for WebVTT at the W3C. WebVTT is still new and needs work to fully support the necessary functionality for captions. The advantage of this work happening at the W3C is that there is a greater opportunity for additional input. As this is a format that browser vendors have expressed interest in implementing, it is important for developers and end users to join the community group and weigh in on strengths and weaknesses of the format to help ensure that the spec provides support which is sufficient for the needs of all concerned. Adobe has joined this group to help ensure that this is true for the WebVTT community spec being drafted.

Our intent is to support what our customers want, and we have some customers who want each of these three formats. As a result we’re engaged with multiple efforts. The bottom line for Adobe is that end users who depend on captions need complete information to provide access to video and audio content and developers and video providers need efficient solutions that fit into their overall video workflow. Whether providing implementations for a developed standard or engaging in a standards development activity, we will work to ensure that both end user and video provider needs are met.

10:49 AM Permalink