Search:

Content:

Archive for December, 2010

PDF test results by assistive technology

The information in this post was taken from The Australian Government’s study into the Accessibility of the Portable Document Format for people with a disability. See my previous blog posts for the conclusions of the AGIMO study into PDFs.

Several issues occurred across assistive technologies (as well as with Read Out Loud and the keyboard only feature), which leads me to believe that there are still a few bugs in the Adobe interface:

  • Page number not read aloud (JAWS 9 & 10, NVDA 2009.1, Window Eyes 7, Read Out Loud, Keyboard only)
  • Page number of document does not correspond with Adobe Page Navigation toolbar (JAWS 9 & 10, MAGic 10, ZoomText 9.14, Read Out Loud, Keyboard only, Auslan)
  • Difficulty with table headers (JAWS 9 & 10, NVDA 2009.1, SATAGO 3.0, Window Eyes 7, ZoomText 9.14, Keyboard only)
  • Difficulty with form fields (JAWS 9 & 10, NVDA 2009.1, SATAGO 3.0, Window Eyes 7, MAGic 10, Read Out Loud, Read & Write Gold 9, Dragon Professional 10.1, OS configuration

PAC Mate

No tasks could be completed.

Voice Over

No tasks could be completed.

JAWS 9 & 10 (results extrapolated to version 11 & 12)

  • Page number in document is not read aloud by JAWS
  • Page number of document does not correspond with Adobe Page Navigation toolbar
  • Users expected table rows for ‘item details’ to be numbered
  • ‘Page Down’ does not act as user expects
  • Cannot manually enter information into date field with ‘auto forms mode’ in JAWS 10 turned on
  • Cannot jump between paragraphs using JAWS
  • User does not know JAWS table navigation commands
  • User does not know how to navigate via headings
  • User does not know how to search for a page using Adobe Page Navigation toolbar
  • User tries to use Word commands
  • User found it hard to use drop down calendar picker

NVDA 2009.1

  • Page number in document is not read aloud by NVDA 2009.1
  • ‘Page Down’ does not act as user expects
  • NVDA 2009.1 does not provide a direct association between the header and data cells
  • Field name (postal code) is not read out
  • User does not know how to search for a page

SATAGO 3.0

  • User expected table rows for ‘item details’ to be numbered
  • SATAGO 3.0 was unable to load document
  • Edit field name not read aloud when arrowed to

Window Eyes 7

  • Page number in document is not read aloud by Window Eyes 7
  • Window Eyes 7 does not accurately associate table containing 2 rows of headers
  • Headings not identified by Window Eyes 7
  • User has to exit ‘Browse on’ mode to read non editable fields
  • User did not know that Window Eyes 7 does not identify headings
  • User did not know how to navigate table
  • Not able to search by page number

MAGic 10

  • Page number of document does not correspond with the Adobe Page Navigation toolbar
  • Hover reading function does not work within content area of document
  • Arrowing down functionality not efficient
  • Field name is not read out for postal code field

ZoomText 9.14

  • Page number of document does not correspond with the Adobe Page Navigation toolbar
  • ‘Doc Reader’ reads all table cells as one
  • Quality of content poor when magnified
  • Background colours still do not provide sufficient contrast when inverted, making text hard to read
  • Table header information not very clear when colour inverted by user
  • Two column presentation requires horizontal scrolling to read

Read Out Loud (Adobe Reader 9)

  • Page number in document is not read out loud
  • Page number of document does not correspond with the Adobe Page Navigation toolbar
  • All of first page is read as one block
  • Text entered into form fields not automatically read out

Read & Write Gold 9

  • Text entered into form fields not automatically read out

Dragon Professional 10.1

  • General Dragon commands do not work
  • Dragon does not apply form field numbering overlay for PDF forms
  • Text input is not as accurately recorded in PDF documents as it is with other application

Keyboard only

  • Page number of document does not correspond with the Adobe Page Navigation toolbar
  • User reads left column first but information starts on right
  • Table headers not visible when using the Reflow feature in Adobe Reader
  • Page numbers not visible when using the Reflow feature in Adobe Reader
  • User is not aware of the Reflow feature in Adobe Reader

Operating System (OS) configuration

  • OS colours not inherited by form fields in document
  • Colours specified in OS not inherited in document
  • Adobe Reader customisation settings not intuitive

Auslan

  • Page number of document does not correspond with the Adobe Page Navigation toolbar

Between a rock and a PDF

PDFs and Accessibility Seminar

I will be running a public seminar on accessibility and PDFs in Melbourne on January 18th. For more information see the Melbourne Web Accessibility Meetup Group.

The Australian Government’s study into the Accessibility of the Portable Document Format for people with a disability

I have finally had a chance to read through the extensive AGIMO study into PDFs. It’s a comprehensive review of PDFs and their accessibility, and the authors should be commended for completing such detailed testing while still being able to explain the findings in plain English. It is the most thorough review of PDFs that I have seen, and it confirms some of my previous statements.

I recommend that you read the report, even if you don’t have time for all the supplementary documentation.

This post will be dealing with the conclusions of the report. A future post will discuss the assistive technology testing in more detail.

Conclusions

The study focussed on PDF files, as more complaints are lodged with the Australian Human Rights Commission about PDF than any other format.

“Overall, the Study found that there is insufficient evidence to establish that the development of the Portable Document Format and improvements in assistive technologies have advanced enough for PDF files to be considered accessible for people with a disability, particularly for those who are blind or have low vision.” (quoted from the Executive Summary).

The study discussed three important issues that contributed to the inaccessibility of PDFs (quoted from the Executive Summary):

  • the design of the PDF file by the document author to incorporate the correct presentation, structure, tags and elements that maximise accessibility;
  • the technical ability of the assistive technology to interact with the PDF file (via the relevant PDF Reader); and
  • the skill of the user and their familiarity with using their assistive technology to interact with a PDF file.

The study also mentioned that there is no agreed definition as to an “accessible PDF”, although some work in this area is being undertaken.

In conclusion:

“Until further data is available on the characteristics of an accessible PDF file and there are Sufficient Techniques available to support the conformance of the PDF technology to WCAG 2.0, the Australian Government position recommending that alternative file formats be provided whenever PDF files are used should remain unchanged.”  (quoted from the Executive Summary).