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:


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
July 20, 2011

Books for everyone – an accessible Digital Editions for Windows and Mac

I’m delighted to share the news that Adobe Digital Editions 1.8 is available on Adobe Labs and that at long last this version provides improved support for accessibility. Digital Editions 1.8 has enhanced keyboard support, provides additional text magnification, support for high-contrast mode color-switching, and interoperability with the UIAutomation accessibility API to allow screen readers to read ebooks.

Some views of Digital Editions 1.8:

Digital Editions 1.8 will allow users, including screen reader users, to check out books from public libraries that use Adobe Content Server for book Digital Rights Management (DRM). In the United States, many libraries use Overdrive but have needed to direct users to audio books instead of EPUB books. Now, taking out an EPUB book from the library can work for many more people.

Buying books at many popular online vendors is also possible. EPUB Books purchased at Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books, ebooks.com, Waterstones, and more can be read with Digital Editions 1.8. Naturally, the book store needs to be accessible also, which is unfortunately not universally true (e.g. at Barnes and Noble the “Buy now” button is not labeled, maddeningly), but some are.

A couple of words about screen reader support. Digital Editions 1.8 is built using WPF and utilizes Microsoft’s UIAutomation accessibility API. Currently, JAWS users will be able to read books successfully. Update: JAWS 12 and newer future versions are able to support UIAutomation, so JAWS 12 is required. Earlier versions are not expected to correctly interact with Digital Editions 1.8. Other screen readers that support UIAutomation such as Window-Eyes 7.5 and NVDA are able to successfully read the menus and other aspects of the application, with the exception of the book content. This is a complex control and we are talking with vendors to ensure that the book content is able to be read by more tools than JAWS. Mac users can use VoiceOver to read books on the Mac version of Digital Editions 1.8.

There have many people pushing and encouraging us to improve Digital Editions and I thank everyone for their feedback and advice. I’d like to recognize and thank a few people in particular for engaging with us to provide feedback on early builds and patiently waiting for the release of this tool – from the National Federation of the Blind, Dr. Marc Maurer, Anne Taylor, and Tony Olivero; from the Royal National Institute of Blind People, Richard Orme, Steve Griffiths, and several testers; from the American Foundation for the Blind, Paul Schroeder and Darren Burton; and George Kerscher from DAISY and IDPF. I am certain that each of these people will have positive and negative things to say about this version; there is additional work to do to make Digital Additions more accessible to more people, but I believe that this is a solid first step and that is due to the hard work of the development team and the advice and guidance of these people and others.

We’d like to give a few people an easy opportunity to try out reading an accessible EPUB book with Digital Editions 1.8, so we are holding a quick drawing for gift cards to online bookstores. You can enter the contest here. We’ll award 30 gift cards on Monday July 25 at noon Eastern US time.

We’re interested in your feedback, so enjoy your books and please send feedback!

9:12 AM Permalink
June 29, 2011

InDesign 5.5 Accessibility Webinar

Just a heads up that Noha Edell from Adobe is offering a webinar on InDesign CS5.5 accessibility, this Friday, July 1 at 3pm Eastern/12pm Pacific.

The InDesign team has made substantial improvements in accessibility support. Authors now have complete control over generated reading order, can provide tables and lists that are tagged correctly without any need for repair in Acrobat, and have more sophisticated support for alternative text for images.

This webinar is a must-see for anyone who uses InDesign for the creation of PDF documents that need to be accessible. The webinar is Friday, July 1, at 12 p.m. PT at http://my.adobe.acrobat.com/askcspro.

More information about the event is available at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=198681246846060.

1:56 PM Permalink
June 20, 2011

Talk on Captioning at TDI Conference

I spoke on Adobe’s efforts to support the captioning aspects of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act at the TDI Conference a couple of weeks ago in Austin, TX. In this talk I highlight a number of efforts to support captioning that Adobe has worked on – most people interested in captioning are familiar with some but not all of these. Take a look and let me know if you have any comments.

Presentation: Supporting the CVAA with Captioning for Video and Live Meetings.

2:41 PM Permalink
March 24, 2011

New Closed Captioning Pod for Adobe Connect

The new real-time captioning pod for Adobe Connect 8 is now available at the Adobe Exchange. Note: Link updated to point to the current version of the captioning pod

This pod improves on the previous version in several ways:

  • Predefined connection information for CaptionColorado, CaptionFirst, and the Media Access Group at WGBH
  • Built-in ability for users to record a transcript of the captioning, and export to text or HTML. (Meeting hosts can disable this if required)
  • Five color and contrast options for caption display, and multiple font size choices
  • Support for multiple concurrent tracks of captioning, of particular use for multi-lingual audiences
  • End-user rewind controls to review caption information

As with the earlier version, captions are recorded when a Connect meeting is recorded, so an archived meeting will display any captions available during the live meeting, and end-users who may find live captioning distracting or who simply do not wish to view captions can disable the display for their view of the meeting without disrupting the captioning for other participants.

Closed captioning vendors interested in delivering captioning to Adobe Connect meetings can contact us (email: access [at] adobe) for instructions on how to communicate with the caption pod.

The pod was developed by eSyncTraining who did a great job taking a wide variety of requirements into consideration and building the pod. We’re discussing further improvements to the pod already, as in developing this pod we consulted with experts at each of the caption agencies as well as current users and captioning experts and as a result have additional ideas to investigate. If you have other ideas for the pod, please let us know.

5:52 PM Permalink