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PDF 2007 shines at Disney World

May 09, 2007

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Chris Smith and the folks at AGI are putting on a stellar conference this year, with the conference attendees doubling in number no doubt to the over 80 sessions targeted at creatives, PDFrs, print gurus and video/digital enthusiasts.

The first day kicked off with a keynote about "Organizational creativity" presented by Disney. It's interesting to get to see a behind the scenes take on all things Disney and how their organization responds to customers. But back to PDFs!

I had a chance to visit several presentations today and one that was particularly interesting was Duff Johnson's presentation on "Accessible PDF: From Section 508 to PDF".

Duff's presentations are always interesting and cover a lot of ground. In particular I have to hunt him down later and find out more about the term "auto-magically" that he kept using in relation to PDFs. (I'll write about it tomorrow!)

In particular interest were his comments in regard to accessibility and PDFs and how PDFs that are properly tagged are far more accessible to search engines. "Any PDFs that are online should be accessible to search engines," said Johnson.

Duff's tip for accessibility is that it is always easiest when integrated early in the document cycle.

Duff also shared his acronym to help folks start designing for accessibility:

START
  • Simplify the layout
  • Tables should be as simple as possible
  • Alternate text for graphics and images should be addressed early in the authoring process
  • Reinvent design elements that won't work on a screen reader
  • Test with common screen reading software until you can predict performance by looking at the tags alone.

Good accessibility advice!

Other reasons why accessibility is becoming more and more important include: improved Text-To-Speech support, tagging is required for PDF/A-1a compliance, enables reflow for small screens, improved reuse of text, improved performance with search engines, makes PDFs usable by those who must use AT.

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