March 19, 2013

Better, but…

Roughly 3 years ago (late April, 2010) I wrote a Rant entitled A Letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary where I got all hissy about the fact that the transcripts of the invited experts to the Hearing on Achieving the Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act in the Digital Age were posted in inaccessible PDF files: big giant pictures (the most evil of PDFs)! The experts included Hon. Samuel R. Bagenstos (Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice), Mark D, Richert, Esq. (Director, Public Policy – American Foundation for the Blind), Judy Brewer (Director, Web Accessibility Initiative – World Wide Web Consortium), Steven I. Jacobs (President – IDEAL Group, Inc.) and Daniel F. Goldstein (Partner – Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP). I got all righteous and took it upon myself to convert those PDFs to HTML and mirrored them from my site, freely knowing that I might just get into a bit of trouble over that decision. I never heard a word, and after a while life moved on.

[Collage: PDF and MS Word Icons]
3 years later I was looking for something for a colleague of mine, and happened to return to the web-site that contained those initially offending PDFs. To my surprise, the PDFs HAD been removed, replaced instead with MS Word Docs! I’m not really sure exactly how I feel about this: on one hand, at least it is digitized text (versus those gawd-awful images of 2010), and, for the most part the .DOC file format is pretty easy to open today – on most systems and platforms. Still and all, what about HTML guys? I mean, is it really that hard to take a Word Doc and mark it up as HTML?

So I pose the question: is this acceptable? I really am curious to know other’s thoughts, so please feel free to comment here, or hit me at twitter and let me know.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Better, but… by John Foliot is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Posted by John

I am a 16 year veteran of Web Accessibility, living and working in Austin, Texas. Currently Principal Accessibility Strategist at Deque Systems Inc., I have previously held accessibility related positions at JPMorgan Chase and Stanford University. I am also actively involved with the W3C - the international internet standards body - where I attempt to stir the pot, fight hard for accessibility on the web, and am currently co-chairing a subcommittee on the accessibility of media elements in HTML5.

View more posts from this author

Leave a Reply