2006 Conference General Sessions

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DEVELOPMENT OF NEXT GENERATION ACCESSIBLE DOCUMENTATION

 

Presenter 1

Greg Pisocky

Adobe Systems Incorporated

8201 Greensboro Dr., Suite 1000

McLean, VA 22101 USA

gpisocky@adobe.com

 

Presenter 2

Caesar Eghtesadi,

AccessWorld Solutions,

American Foundation for the Blind

11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300

New York, NY 10001

keghtesadi@aol.com

 

Presenter 3

Brad Hodges

AccessWorld Solutions,

American Foundation for the Blind

11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300

New York, NY 10001

keghtesadi@aol.com

 

Presenter 4

Amy Salmon

AccessWorld Solutions,

American Foundation for the Blind

11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300

New York, NY 10001

keghtesadi@aol.com

 

This paper describes the collaboration between Adobe Systems, Inc. and AccessWorld Solutions to develop next-generation electronic documentation software technology, products, and applications that are accessible to all users - including people with disabilities.

One of the toughest obstacles to achieving accessibility in the Information Technology sector has been making complex electronic documents and forms accessible to people with disabilities, particularly those with visual impairments. Screen reader assistive technology tools work well with web pages and word processing files, but forms and complex document layouts require user agents to provide useable and accessible form fields, graphic elements, meaningful navigation, and interactive behavior. This added complexity requires designers of user agents to incorporate appropriate design elements in their applications so that those who rely on assistive technology can use these applications in an effective and productive manner.

Two of the most popular user agents used for the delivery of rich media content are the Adobe Acrobat 7.0 ® and Adobe Reader 7.0 ® programs. These products are used in a variety of applications, particularly in government, financial, industrial, and engineering verticals. Adobe’s Acrobat® software suite enables users to create, format, and read Portable Document Format (PDF) files from a variety of applications. PDF files are an industry standard for sharing richly formatted documents. Corporations and institutions across industries compose and disseminate everything from user manuals to annual reports to legal documents using the PDF file format.

To ensure the accessibility of Adobe Acrobat 7.0 ® and Adobe Reader 7.0 ® software for disabled users, Adobe Systems Incorporated engaged AccessWorld Solutions (AWS), the consulting division of the American Foundation for the Blind, to assist with the development of accessible products. The purpose was to evaluate the accessibility and usability features of Adobe Acrobat 7.0 ® and Adobe Reader 7.0 ® software products and provide recommendations for making PDF files more accessible to people with disabilities. As AWS-Adobe projects demonstrate, significant accessibility barriers can be identified and removed by incorporating people with disabilities into the development process. Our experience also shows the importance of development engineers seeing first-hand how their products can be used effectively by people with disabilities.

While developers are certainly involved in the development process, other functions of the corporation also have a role in promoting and deploying accessible solutions. Such engagement occurs at all levels of an organization. AWS does not limit itself to those who develop the products, but also works with marketing, public relations, public policy, and regulatory affairs functions. This holistic approach to accessibility results not only in product features that are accessible, but also in the development of a corporate culture that is concerned with accessibility - from the proper production of Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs) to a website that can be used by all who visit. This spirit of cooperation between AWS and Adobe Systems has created an environment that provided benefits to individuals with disabilities while at the same time yielding positive results for both organizations.

This presentation summarizes the results of the Adobe - AWS evaluation and discusses how those results contributed to improving the accessibility features of Adobe Acrobat 7.0 ® and Adobe Reader 7.0 ® software. It also highlights Adobe System’s implementation of a corporate culture that remains aware of accessibility issues. Several use cases and applications will be discussed and demonstrated during the presentation of this paper.


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