By Philip Tran (Alternate Media Specialist)
Do you know the difference between providing access to information and having the information being accessible? When we are creating content for the web, we must be sure that everyone accessing our content can do so equally. The main culprit that plagues us with web inaccessibility are PDFs. When PDFs were created two decades ago, they were designed to be WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get).
These PDFs are pictures of a text rather than actual text. Why is this so important? Users who are blind and visually impaired depend on screen reader technology to navigate the web. Most of us have developed a particular habit of creating content in a certain way. This is not to say that it is wrong, but there is a better way which is faster, more efficient, and more accessible.
As web authors, we must do our due diligence to make sure that the content we post can be accessed by all. We will learn to create correctly from the beginning rather than retrofitting it as problems occur. What resources are at your disposal you might ask? Through the Professional Development Committee, I offer a class on accessible Word and PDF creation. This class teaches the fundamentals of creating accessible forms presented in our daily work tasks. As a hands-on class, we will learn by doing. By giving the author empathy to what their audience feels, it changes our mindset on how and why we create things.
Even if the class isn't offered or doesn't fit into your schedule, I am only a phone call (x84975) and email away. I will be happy to answer any questions you have on accessibility and help guide you on creating these documents. I hope to work with every one of you soon.