Good document design is the key to accessibility
The Australian Government’s study into the Accessibility of the Portable Document Format for people with a disability
The web accessibility thread remains the most popular of our blog themes. Thanks to the work of Jacqui and Raven, it is the place to go to for relevant and reliable information on online accessibility issues in the Australian Government context. This trend continues today with this post heralding the release of the Australian Government’s study into the Accessibility of the Portable Document Format for people with a disability.
When the Australian Government released the Website Accessibility National Transition Strategy in June 2010, it noted that “New technology has huge potential to make life better for people with disability, but we need to make sure that it is as easy to use as possible for all members of our community.” Online accessibility depends on the manner in which documents are presented and how they interact with the assistive technologies that are increasingly available.
The Portable Document Format (PDF), first created by Adobe Systems in 1993, now in its ninth version, is very widely used for online documents. While it has wide utility, its suitability for accessibility purposes has been criticised. In 2010, AGIMO, working with Vision Australia, and with the cooperation of Adobe, undertook a study of the PDF format’s accessibility capabilities. The study’s scope was focussed on the PDF format and was designed to increase understanding of its strengths and weaknesses.
The main points of the Study are:
- Poor document design makes for poor accessibility.
- Publishing tools and formats, like PDF, are improving but aren’t a substitute for good design.
- The Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy shows the way ahead for improved accessibility.
The study’s main and supplementary reports can be found on the Department of Finance and Deregulation’s website. Your comments are most welcome.