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PDF Association

Mission Statement: To promote Open Standards-based electronic document implementations using PDF technology through education, expertise and shared experience for stakeholders worldwide.
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Have we passed ‘peak PDF’?

How do we gain insight into how users’ views of documents are shifting? Google Trends is an increasingly interesting source of high-level marketplace data. By aggregating Google’s search data over time, reporting a term’s popularity as compared with all other searches.

Participating in the PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit

The PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit’s objective is to establish a broad-based understanding of how PDF files should be tagged for accessibilty. It’s an opportunity to focus on establishing a common set of examples of accessible PDF content, and identify best-practice when tagging difficult cases.

Members supporting PDF features!

The typical adoption curve for PDF technologies until approximately 2007 tended to track with that of the original PDF developer. Since then the marketplace has shifted; it’s no longer clear that Adobe drivesPDF feature support worldwide. Accordingly, we are happy to report that adoption of PDF 2.0 continues apace, with new vendors announcing their support every month.

Modernizing PDF Techniques for Accessibility

The PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit will identify best-practices in tagging various cases in PDF documents. Questions to be addressed will likely include: the legal ways to tag a nested list, the correct way to caption multiple images, the appropriate way to organize content within headings.

Refried PDF

My hospital emailed me a medical records release form as a PDF. They told me to print it, fill it, sign it, scan it and return it to the medical records department, in that order. In 2018? To get the form via email (i.e., electronically), yet be asked to print it? Did the last 20 years just… not mean anything! So I thought I’d be clever. I’d fill it first, THEN print it. Or better yet, never print it, but sign it anyhow, and return it along with a note making the case for improving their workflow. The story continues…

Laws paving the way for PDF/UA

In 2006, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, which came into force on the 3rd of May 2008. The goal of the resolution is to protect and support the rights of people with disabilities worldwide. It aspires towards building a more inclusive society in which both disabled and non-people with disabilities are equal, self-determining participants in their own communities. A number of UN member states, including Germany and Austria, have already ratified the agreement. In doing so, they have pledged to enshrine the Convention in national law and introduce political measures to implement it in practice. Article 21 of the Convention, “Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information” refers to equal access to information. This means that information intended for the general public should be made available for people with a range of disabilities as soon as possible, using accessible formats and technology.

The European Union introduced concrete measures in the form of “The European Disability Strategy 2010-2020: A Renewed Commitment to a Barrier-Free Europe”. As part of this strategy, the European Commission is working towards a modernised European public procurement law, under which ICT products and services provided by European and national authorities must be barrier-free as defined by EU standard EN 301549, which is expected to be published in 2014. The three standardisation organisations CEN, CENELEC and ETSI have developed a draft of this standard and guidelines for implementing it, based on Mandate 376.

The European Commission is also preparing a single European accessibility law which will require ICT to play a significant role. Publication of the first draft is expected at some point in Summer 2013. This law should harmonise the current range of national laws among EU member states, some of which differ dramatically from one another.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons came into force for Germany on the 26th of March 2009. Germany responded with a national action plan, where the federal government presented a number of measures aimed at paving the way towards a more inclusive society. In part, this path makes use of existing laws and regulations. For example, Germany has had a Federal Law on the Equal Treatment of Disabled Persons (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz or BGG) since 2002. Section 11 of the law requires federal authorities to offer all information and documents in a universally-accessible format. The minimum requirements for meeting this regulation are described in the Regulation for Accessible IT (Barrierefreie-Informationstechnik-Verordnung or BITV). It was updated to version 2.0 in 2011 and now mostly reflects the requirements of WCAG 2.0. Individual German states also have state equality laws based on the federal disability equality law.

Legal implementation of these laws and regulations has until now left rather a lot to be desired; a number of federal and state authorities have significant room for improvement in terms of the accessibility of their offerings. The aforementioned EU laws and regulations are expected to improve this situation, once adopted in the near future.

The United States’ Rehabilitation Act goes one step further in that it allows private legal action which can lead to very high compensation claims. This law was expanded in 1998 with Section 508, which for the first time in the world placed a legal requirement on authorities to make their ICT offerings accessible and usable for people with disabilities.

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Tags: Section 508, UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons, accessibility
Categories: PDF/UA