Adobe’s Current Strategy
(as described on access.adobe.com)
Enhance the PDF format with MSAA-aware capabilities (tags) that document developers may use to improve accessibility. This approach is rooted in the belief that accessibility is operationally defined as the ability to interact with the user’s choice of screen reader software. Usability is not part of this definition.
- A high level of control over the document-reading (as opposed to interacting) experience is theoretically possible via tags
- Tags are arcane, inherently tricky and unavoidably costly to implement. The vast majority of authors will not bother with them at all
- MSAA is 32-bit, which makes the solution ineffective for non 32-bit Windows platforms (PDAs, etc)
- Forms are unreasonably difficult – and are better handled with scripts anyhow
Accessibility for the Masses
Adobe adds click-to-speak capabilities to the Acrobat program family. The result is dramatically improved accessibility AND usability to the unlimited world of electronic documents via the free Acrobat Reader. This approach assumes that without forgetting harder-to-serve users, accessibility may nonetheless be operationally defined as the provision of much more usability to many more people.
- Overnight, every PDF file becomes accessible to a substantial majority of assistive technology users via a simple Acrobat version upgrade
- Authoring with tags would remain available to advanced, mandated and/or motivated content authors
- Authoring forms with scripts would replace tags to improve both form functionality and accessibility
- By facilitating the expression of text, tags, scripts and annotations through the same Adobe-controlled UI, Acrobat would deliver consistent, seamless end- user functionality across the spectrum of assistive technology needs
- Major new marketplaces in education, foreign language, government, etc, etc.
- Added costs to Acrobat development, and file-size to the Reader installers
by Duff Johnson