Posts Tagged Accessibility

Why do we need alt-text for Text Frames in InDesign CS5.5?

Last week I wrote about the supercool Object Export Options, and how you can apply Alt-Text to different objects.

I had several people asking me why on earth do we need Alt-text for text frames? It’s already text, isn’t it? So I asked the product team, and this is what I learned.

Rasterize Text Frames to preserve styles, effects, and fonts

Rasterize Text Frames to preserve styles, effects, and fonts

Imagine a text frame for display type like a headline, with a bevel-emboss and drop shadow effect. In order to preserve this appearance in an HTML and EPUB export, you will need to apply custom image conversion settings (Object > Object Export Options > EPUB & HTML). In InDesign, it is still a text frame, but the resulting “image” in HTML/EPUB would need to have Alt-Text applied to describe the text that is rasterized in the export process.

You could also use it if you want to rasterize some text because you want to keep the styling/font intact. For example, a font which ePub is incapable of rendering which may be part of a logo, caption or larger design. In these cases it makes sense to first rasterize that text, and then apply some Alt-Text so when the ePub or HTML is “read aloud” then it can actually read out some text to go with what is now a raster.

Can you think of something else? Share it with us, post a comment below.

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Object Export Options for tagged PDF | InDesign CS5.5

In earlier posts, we saw how Object Export options can be used to specify Alt-text , and also specify custom image conversion settings for individual objects in the EPUB/HTML workflow. You can use Object Export Options to define apply PDF tags and add Actual Text to a PDF.

Object Export Options for tagged PDF

Object Export Options for tagged PDF

Apply Tag

This is the ability to apply the PDF tag to the container (aka frame). The value of the tag for the container can be generated in different ways:

  • For legacy InDesign files, it can be determined “from the Structure Pane”
  • Some graphic elements on a page have no important meaning when be read aloud by a voice reader and should be tagged as “Artifact”.
  • When set to “Based on Object”, InDesign will determine if the frame contains text or graphic content, and apply the appropriate tag “story” or “figure”.

Actual Text

In addition to alt text, PDF also supports Actual Text, which can be applied to graphic elements that visually look like text, but are in fact a graphic format. For example, a scanned TIFF image with text, or text converted to vector outlines. In these situations, Actual text should simply represent the characters and words that were “lost” in the process of converting to artwork. Actual text is ONLY relevant for tagged PDF.

 

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Alt Text using Object Export Options | InDesign CS5.5

Object Export options consolidate two major functions when exporting images to EPUB/HTML and Tagged PDF.

  • The first function is the requirement to add and persist “alternative text” to placed images and graphics, which i’ll talk about in this post.
  • The second function is the ability to create different conversion settings on each object, with special attention spent on settings useful for different screens sizes and pixel densities (ppi).

The dialog box has been made modeless, so that you can select different individual frames while leaving the dialog active.

The Object Export Options can be applied to both graphic and text frames, as well as to groups. You can also apply conversion options to text frames, which is very useful when you want to control the quality of rasterization applied to text effects like Drop Shadows, and Bevel and Emboss, in the exported HTML and EPUB files.

Object Export Options > Alt Text

Alternative text (or alt text for short) is a brief text based description of the subject captured in the photograph or illustration. Adding alt text is a common practice when creating HTML web pages and is also supported in EPUB and Tagged PDF. You can find information on writing Alt text at http://www.w3.org/QA/Tips/altAttribute. In InDesign CS5, do the following:

  1. Select an object and choose Object > Object Export Options > Alt Text.

    Choose Object > Object Export Options > Alt Text

    Choose Object > Object Export Options > Alt Text

  2. Choose one of the following
    • From Structure: For legacy INDD files where users have already created all of the alt-text using the Structure Pane.
    • From XMP (Title | Description | Headline ): Common XMP metadata fields used to capture some text about the image or graphic. If the XMP data is updated in another application like Adobe Bridge, updating the link in InDesign results in the alt text string being updated.
    • From Other XMP: Only to be used by an XMP expert! Requires understanding the XMP path namespace and the array value. For example, the Bridge user interface supports IPTC Core, which contains a field titled “IPTC Subject Code”. If this was the field where Alt text string is stored, then in InDesign CS5.5, the value would have to be written as “Iptc4xmpCore:SubjectCode[1]”. For advertuous mortals, in Photoshop, you can view the full namespace in an image under File Info > Raw Data.
    • Custom: Users can enter their own custom alt text string. Useful when there is no pre-existing data, or when the metadata text is lacking in quality.

Besides this there are a few otherways Alt Text can be created in InDesign:

  • From Microsoft Word: When you import a Word document with graphic images that have Alt Text already created in Word, these are converted to native InDesign alt text. Currently, only the Windows version of Word supports this feature.
  • When a text frame has Object Export Settings for EPUB/HTML conversion to a graphic format like PNG, GIF, or JPEG, any alt text value is appropriately be passed through.

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Reading order for accessible PDFs using InDesign CS5.5

InDesign CS5.5 has several features that make it easier for you to create accessible content. I’ve already posted about some under the hood enhancements. But there are more.

So, is there a way to easily specify the reading order in InDesign CS5.5? Articles might be the answer you’re looking for. See an earlier post about Articles.

Test Drive

In 1961, the IBM 704 became the first computer to sing, singing the song Daisy Bell. Vocals were programmed by John Kelly and Carol Lockbaum and the accompaniment was programmed by Max Mathews. This performance was the inspiration for the famous scene in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey in which the HAL 9000 computer sings the song as it is deactivated. If you’re interested in more trivia, see Wikipedia article.

So, I thought it’s only fair that I use “Daisy Bell and her bicycle-built-for-two”  to demonstrate the Reading Order. I created a one page PDF document, set up articles, and exported as a tagged PDF. This PDF was created using InDesign CS5.5 and has not been post-processed or retouched.

Right-click and Save As to download the PDF

Right-click and Save As to download the PDF

  1. Download the PDF file and open it in Acrobat or Adobe Reader.
  2. Choose View > Read Out Loud > Activate Read Out Loud.
  3. Choose View > Read Out Loud > Read this Page.
  4. Compare the reading order with the Article structure in the figure below.

    Articles panel and options

    Articles panel and options

Try reading the PDF with Acrobat,  the free Adobe Reader, or other screen reader software that you use. See Acrobat help for more information on Read out Loud.

Let me know how it works.

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PDF Accessibility and InDesign CS5.5

InDesign CS5.5, brings with it several improvements. Several that  you don’t have to do anything about. They’re just there, and work! You can continue using the same workflows.

Accessible PDF documents is one such area. You can create accessible PDFs for Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Reader, or other software such as screen readers. InDesign CS5.5 automatically adds tags for the following:

  • Tables and nested tables
  • Lists and nested lists
  • Footnotes
  • Hyperlinks

If you have an InDesign document that has the following structure:

InDesign Document snippet

InDesign Document snippet

The following images show the tags exported by InDesign CS5.5 (viewed in Acrobat Tags panel).

Role Mapping

Table tags

Nested list tags

Nested list tags

Note tags

FoootNote tag

Hyperlink tags

Hyperlink tags

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: The THead, TBody, and TFoot tags are honored only if you export to PDF version 1.5 or higher

See Adobe InDesign CS5 accessibility overview

Update( April 13) : I wrote another post about how Articles can be used to specify Reading Order. You might find that interesting as well.

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