PDF/A Competence Center Newsletter: Issue 18

Topics include: DMS Expo, accessibility in PDF and elsewhere.

Table of Contents

Overview
Current News: DMS Expo Stuttgart
Main Article: Accessibility in PDF and Elsewhere
PDF/A Competence Center Members Introduce Themselves: Crawford Technologies Inc.
New Members

 

 

 

Stewart Rogers

 

Dear Readers,

The 4th International PDF/A Conference was held in Rome this year, and it seems the choice of location couldn’t have been better, at least for the purposes of drawing metaphors from the history of this incredible place. While evidence of stone tools, pottery and stone weapons attest to at least 10,000 years of human presence, the story of the ‘birth’ of Rome is shrouded in myth and mystery due to the lack of any surviving documented history.

With current legislation, regulation and law requiring that companies must be able to not only reproduce archived copies of customer communications, but also prove that their IT processes guarantee that output to printing devices and archive solutions are the same, PDF/A is emerging across Europe – and elsewhere in the world – as the leading standard.

Day 1 was full of educational sessions that were both inspiring and informative. Whether you needed to cover the basics of PDF/A, or were a seasoned professional, there was something for everyone. At the end of the first day, members of the PDF/A Competence Center met to discuss the results of the past year and the plans for the future.

This meeting culminated in the announcement of the new Board. With the addition of both Duff Johnson and myself to the Board, the Competence Center is taking steps to ensure that the USA and UK ‘chapters’ are represented within the organization, resulting in a better foundation for us to take PDF/A to our regions and increase its popularity as an archiving standard.

Day 2 and 3 of the Conference were packed with a complete program of seminars covering topics as wide as legal issues, libraries, metadata and B2C considerations. For the first time, a track on document accessibility was included to highlight the needs of the 30 million Europeans and 25 million US people that can’t access electronic and physical printed documents.

Key participants in the standards development process were present at this year’s conference, with keynote speeches from the likes of Betsy Fanning and Stephen Levenson. Stephen spoke about the challenges in bringing PDF/A to the USA, while Betsy laid out the roadmap for PDF/A-2 and PDF/A-3. Along with a well-represented exhibition area, the Conference covered the needs of every level of attendee.

There are still many challenges ahead in bringing PDF/A to every region of Europe and North America, and the group has yet to make inroads in Asia Pacific. In the UK, for example, we are still in the early stages of educating government offices and companies as to the existence of PDF/A as the archiving standard. In addition to growth in geographic breadth, there is a further challenge to increase the depth of PDF/A adoption.

With recent steps to globalize the PDF/A Competence Center and the governing Board, it looks as though the next two years will see a major improvement in these areas, and I’m personally looking forward to playing my part in that process.

Stewart Rogers
PDF/A Competence Center, Member of the Board
General Manager – European Operations, Crawford Technologies

CURRENT NEWS

DMS Expo Stuttgart

For the fifth time now, the PDF/A Competence Center will be present at the DMS Expo with an interesting mix of lectures and solution presentations at its exhibition stand (7A77). Integrated handling of the large number of PDF standards in DMS and ECM environments will be an important focus. The upcoming new part of the standard for PDF/A-2 is a key topic. Members present at the stand will include representatives of Adobe Systems, callas software, Compart, Crawford Technologies, Docucom(Switzerland), InovoOlution, LuraTech Europe and SEAL Systems. PDF Tools will also be present as a logo partner.

Moreover, on October 25th, the day before the start of the DMS Expo, the PDF/A Competence Center will also offer a half-day seminar at the International Congress Center (ICS) in Stuttgart. Participants at this event will get a well-grounded overview of ISO standards for PDF, such as PDF/A-2, PDF/UA and PDF/E from a neutral perspective and, among other things, will learn about signatures in PDF and the specifications and recommendations in this context.

This year, the DMS Expo will be held from October 26th to 28th, 2010 in Stuttgart.

MAIN ARTICLE

Accessibility in PDF and Elsewhere

By Dave Hook, Director – Product Management, Crawford Technologies
People outside of the transactional customer communication industry often, do not realize that a significant percentage of all printed pages produced every year are not books, manuals, newspa­pers and other such documents. The bulk of printed output are the insurance policies, bank statements, telephone bills, invoices, statements and other documents that are sent to our homes. The quantity of these documents produced an­nually number in the hundreds of billions of pages. In the United States alone, over 80 billion transactional mail pieces are sent annually, each including multiple pages.

In addition to all of the other the other trends and pressures we face, we now must consider document accessibility. Organizations have to serve the needs of those consumers who cannot access printed or electronically presented document con­tent.

PDF/A is an important part of the puzzle

Most organizations now realize that they need to keep the transactional documents that they send to their custom­ers in an archive format for compliance, legal, workflow, data extraction and other purposes. As organizations contemplate the architecture and file storage formats in­volved, PDF/A is clearly one of the leading standards due to its fidelity, popularity and reliability.

The fact that PDF/A is the defined international stand­ard as an “electronic document file format for long-term preservation” speaks volumes. In other words, PDF/A is becoming significantly important to the customer com­munications transactional document industry. PDF/A currently comes in two flavors; PDF/A-1b and PDF/A-1a.

PDF/A-1a is the full compliance level and preserves the natural reading order and content text stream. This re­quires significant structural tags, and provides:

Text reflowing capabilities which are important for mobile devices such as smart phones and other mobile devices due to their small screen size. The Gartner group predicts that mobile devices will outnumber PCs as the most common Web access device by 2013, so this is an important consideration.
Reliable extraction of text from the PDF to facilitate downstream production workflows, including integrity checking, and the additional ability to use data from within the PDF for indexing and retrieval purposes.

Not coincidentally, it includes much of the foundation upon which to build accessi­ble, PDF/UA documents.

Who needs accessible documents?

There are many reasons why individuals may request an accessible document. Major vision limitations include diabetes, clinical blindness, old age and reading difficul­ties (e.g. dyslexia). Finding information about how many individuals need accessible documents is a chal­lenge itself.

Your company’s customer needs will be determined by the types of product or services you supply and the demographic of your customers. Research in CrawfordTech’s division for accessible document creation and mailing services shows the fol­lowing pattern: 6% of ‘alternate format clients’ request Braille, 92% request large print, 0.5% request an eText document and 1.5% request an electronic audio file.

Organizations do not really know how PDF documents are currently being used for ‘read aloud’ or text-reflowing purposes – they simply can’t tell how users are interacting with their PDFs – but due to the fact that tagged PDF is not broadly adopted, our opinion is that PDFs are not yet widely used for this purpose. It is important to note, however, that interest in this capa­bility has increased significantly in 2010.

Why should I take the time and effort to ensure my documents are accessible?

Some organizations have taken the time and effort to make their facilities, systems and documents accessible. In fact, some companies have provided accessible docu­ments for nearly 20 years. For them, it was always ‘the right thing to do’.

Other organizations are only now becoming interested in making their documents accessible due to lobbying and awareness efforts, new and pending legislation, cus­tomer satisfaction and the significant costs associated with class-action law suits and litigation.

The bottom line? Leading organizations are already making their transactional customer communications accessible and they are following industry trends and standards, such as the ISO standard PDF /UA format, for their output.

In Conclusion

PDF/UA is a welcome standard for organizations that wish to be compliant and serve all of their customers equally and fairly. It is an important cornerstone for or­ganizations that have to serve the needs of their clients and the wide variety of their accessibility needs. It is a welcome and consistent standard for the visually disabled community, the assistive technology they use and the vendors that support them.

Crawford Technologies is committed to supporting accessible PDF, including conformance to the upcoming PDF/UA standard.

You can find out how to implement a document accessibility policy by visiting CrawfordTech’s Document Accessibility Services (DAS) website at www.altformats.com – just use the Contact Us options to get in touch. You should also follow us on Twitter @CrawfordTechInc.

PDF/A COMPETENCE CENTER MEMBERS PRESENT THEMSELVES

Crawford Technologies Inc.

Since 1995, Crawford Technologies’ award-winning solutions have helped over 700 companies around the world reduce costs associated with communications’ processes by delivering bills, statements and other mission-critical transactional communications to their customers in the format they need, when they need it. This includes alternate format documents in Braille, large print, audio and eText for visually impaired and print-disabled customers.

With CrawfordTech’s range of unique software products and services, our clients simplify, automate and extend document delivery cost effectively – irrespective of current, legacy or future standards in infrastructure or document output. These clients, including four of the top five US banks, four of the top five US insurance companies and four of the world’s top five car manufacturers, are realizing high-value results as costs associated with document processes are minimized through automation, new opportunities for savings across critical communications are realized and they react quickly to changes in regulations, policies, business requirements and technical infrastructure.

CrawfordTech’s quality software, expert support and print business knowledge help clients to meet operational, service, marketing, legal and compliance requirements and automate the delivery of billions of communications to their customers annually. Simply put, companies look to Crawford Technologies for a platform-independent approach, leading system performance and superior output fidelity. Please visit www.crawfordtech.com to find out more about CrawfordTech’s clients, people, partners and solutions.

Crawford Technologies Inc. and PDF/A

As the first North American member of the PDF/A Competence Centre, and with our UK office heading up the UK Chapter of the organization, we are fully committed to providing PDF/A solutions for clients across the world.

Our PRO Transforms suite of conversion products currently allow users to convert PDF/A into AFP, Xerox Metacode/LCDS, PCL, PostScript, PDF, HTML, Text and TIFF/PNG with additional modules to extract information from PDF/A files into XML, CSV, Text and other formats. CrawfordTech PRO Transform products also convert from AFP, Xerox Metacode/LCDS, PCL, TIFF, PostScript and PDF into PDF/A. This full support for input and output of PDF/A files keeps the CrawfordTech PRO Suite of print stream conversion software solutions at the forefront of the industry with the broadest support for transactional print stream formats.

NEW MEMBERS IN THE PDF/A COMPETENCE CENTER

We welcome the following companies as members in the PDF/A Competence Center:

Document Dialog B.V., Netherlands

About PDF/A Competence Center

The first of the PDF Association's Competence Centers.

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