Guelph Conference: Day One

photo of a button that reads I heart W C A G

Here are my raw notes from the Accessibility Conference at Guelph University, May 2016 #accessconf16

PDF and the User Experience with Karen McCall

  • Complaints on PDF have all been anecdotal until this survey; how PwD are accessing PDFs
  • Karen will be running this survey every November (Karlen Communications website)
  • We knew problems, but didn’t have research to prove

The Survey

  • 185 total responses; 146 complete responses; international response
  • advertised through Twitter and list serves;
  • Used Survey Monkey – most accessible tool I could find
  • Gizmodo was accessibility, but when they updated themselves they lost all accessibility
  • Asked for name and email to use as research; given a reference number by Survey Monkey
  • Most respondents identified that existing legislation in their country; most people didn’t know whether they had regional/state/provincial legislation (everyone from Ontario knew AODA existed though; everyone in the states quoted Section 508)
  • 69% respondents identified as advanced users (computer literacy level)
  • 49% have an intermediate PDF literacy; 53% advanced
  • We all know PDFs are a pain; David Leposky says PDFs are the bane of his existence; but PDF is not going away; PDF is everywhere and used for everything
  • PwD give very detailed responses as to what was working and not working for PDF
  • An accessible PDF can be read in different formats (change it to Word, HTML, structure remains the same – goal we want to have)
  • One person cannot imagine all the different ways someone will read the document, but a correctly tagged PDF will allow the user to choose the format they want
  • Most respondents were using screen reader
  • Top three: screen readers, screen magnifications, and text-to-speech
  • Large percentage are Mac users
  • Biggest alternative device: Human…, Voice Stream Reader (?)
  • Most people are not using tradition PDF readers
  • Tables are a big issue
  • Every developer needs “If a PDF if tagged correctly, its a pleasure to read.” framed and hung in their office
  • Some people know about PDF/UA or ISO 14289-1
  • NVDA is the only screen reader that is still PDF/UA conforming
  • We have known how to make PDFs accessible since Acrobat 5; PDF/UA was formed in 2012 – why are we still having so much trouble making accessible PDFs? (tools, education, etc)
  • Tables in the survey are a work-in-profess; table header tags are painful; everything else in the survey are tagged
  • / @karleninfo /

HTML & PDF: This isn’t an either/or with Adam Spencer

  • We’ve gone to extremes – either all HTML, or PDF, or publishing in four formats
  • A decision needs to be made on tech and capabilities
  • The challenge is getting developers to interact with PDF correctly
  • By limiting access to PDF, you’re limiting access to content
  • If the software isn’t able to access the tag structure, then it all useless
  • Preview ignores all tag structure; Adobe Reader reads tag structure
  • Content accessibility decisions are not linear
  • WCAG 2 Compliant PDFs do not exists – you wouldn’t want a ramp to be WCAG compliant
  • Its silly to make 300 page documents readable on a mobile device
  • PDF allows you to lock a file down; navigation; structure
  • HTML accessibility cost 4x more per page – not reinventing the content
  • Content is already offered in Word
  • No one writes in code except the web team
  • If everything is HTML, all graphic designers are out of a job
  • We still need a hard copy, so why not one copy for everyone
  • David Leposky opinion is not the only one in the country – unstructured plain text is his preference
  • People are terrified of doing something wrong – thats not how we build a document accessibility strategy
  • As a taxpayer, you do not to pay someone to retype their content four different ways
  • You would need an entire team to retype your content for HTML and WCG compliant; but what about cost and deadline
  • Microsoft fired their lead on PDF accessibility; people unsure what to be
  • Everything has to be mobile accessible, and digital but nobody knows how to do this
  • Policy of extremes isn’t working; all PDF; all HTML
  • We want content to reflow to how we want to read content
  • Back end of PDF is all XML
  • You cannot go from InDesign to a fully compliant PDF file
  • Document strategy in advance
  • Adobe Acrobat does not yet for PDF/UA; PAC 2 does (PAC 3 is about to come out)
  • Is the PDF readable? Usable? Accessible?
  • Not everyone should be a document accessibility expert
  • HTML is a quick step from being a good developer
  • Most of not have a DOM reader
  • Its knowing how to convey content to someone; planning head
  • As an organization, you are not getting rid of your PDF documents – plan in advance
  • If you have a legacy collection of PDF, you will have a big bill the first time; going forward, less
  • Never once has a document accessibility expert been consulted in government policy on accessibility
  • We know people don’t like PDF because there are so many bad PDFs
  • Authors don’t like semantics, hierarchy
  • PDF/UA is changing; initially built for developers; how to get technology to interact with PDFs – not for the user; WCAG is for the user
  • 14289 will be split into two parts: secondary standard for technology; 100 page betting on how to make PDFs accessible; published next Spring
  • Section 508 and AODA in refresh; no accessibility document experts called
  • Content format is critical
  • PDF is fully searchable, Googlable if tagged properly
  • HTML doesn’t have the same page structure as a PDF of a printed document (page 21, Section 3 in textbook; PDF – not HTML website)
  • Re-purposing content is the biggest waste of time and money
  • Content accessibility strategies are critical
  • Document accessibility is a business problem; fundamental right to read content; similar to the French language laws – before people had to ask, not anymore (gov)
  • “I cannot read web standard and all of a sudden become a ramp designer.”
  • I can Google how to make a ramp, but that doesn’t make me an expert
  • There is no easy button; this is looking for sustainable approach
  • You don’t post editable content; people can manipulate it
  • One person cannot be laden with the responsible to make all documents accessible
  • There is a reasonable bias for making things HTMLs because its usually web
  • managers who are asked about it- they know how to do it
  • Buying into accessibility is a tough one
  • There is a difference between authoring content and publishing content
  • One sided view because you can just read the WCAG site
  • Google shut off Reader in Chrome because they wanted to stay in Chrome
  • You can’t learn everything you need to know about PDF in a day; same with HTML; most people don’t know how to use Word correctly
  • Adobe and W3C are not always correct
  • Quark Express will not generate spaces at the end of sentences
  • There’s a lot more to PDF accessibility that “Add Tags”
  • Without sustainability, document accessibility either goes by the waistline or start removing content
  • Sustainability is critical; you need a budget for it
  • We need to have a conversation on content, not just a knee jerk one way or another

Audience Question: Tools for InDesign

  • Buy a generator from Callus
  • Use PAC or QuickFix (license $2000, but critical for UA compliance)
  • Staff costs money – if you’re doing one thing, you’re not doing another – the right tools are important

Audience Question: Compliance

  • AODA Compliant file is not an actual thing
  • I like PDF/UA because it is technically compliance, but doesn’t touch usability
  • Accessibility is not a checklist; “Does it make sense?”
  • Don’t need to apply ALT text to every image; takes away from usability/UX
  • If you’re not putting money behind usability, you’re not fully accessibility
  • A third of Accessible-IT teams is usability testing

AC, CC, and Me with Billy Gregory

  • used Go Pro and selfie stick; iMovie; iPhone
  • YouTube doesn’t let you post two audio tracks yet (so you need to post two vidoes)
  • Resource reminder: AMI’s Described Video Best Practices document
  • Netflix does great AD now (after people complained loudly) ; Netflix tailors AD voice to TV show

(and… I lost the rest of my notes for Billy’s talk when I was copying them over.. but here’s his slide deck: Billy Gregory’s Slideshare)

ALT text with Toufic Sbeiti

      • slides on slideshare: Toufic Sbeiti
      • ALT text is one of the first things you talk about in accessibility, is one of the hardest things to apply
      • ALT helpful for screen readers; image file not loaded; etc
      • context is key
      • WCAG turorial on images: 7 types
      • remember there is a screen reader reading everything; dont want to take away from content/experience
      • if no value added, empty ALT
      • Logos that are home buttons “W3C Home”
      • “Open in a new window” ; “Print this page”
      • use consistent image and placement for functional icons (ex: printer)
      • group of images: put ALT in one and empty ALT in others (star rating)
      • other group images: figure and figure caption

Image maps

      • map: one big alt and area alt
      • charts: describe relation

Complex images

      • best practice: short summary, collapsed – ask for source file in Excel (easier)
      • link to long description; not a fan (ex: D under images)
      • structure of a webpage is more important than the colour of a hammar


      • Web Developer Toolbar (Chrome) show ALT text
      • Color Oracle (browser): colour blindness simulator (helpful for testing for grayscale printing)
      • ALT Decision Tree

Post Camp Discussion

Speakers: feel free to contact me if I misinterpreted something you said or if you’d rather your talk was not posted online.


Author: nchitty

Inclusive designer based out of Toronto.

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