PDF files have accessibility problems

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Thursday, 3 May 2007

PDF documents on Web sites and intranets need to be accompanied by accessible HTML or text versions if they are to comply with disability legislation, a leading technology lawyer has claimed.

Struan Robertson, a senior associate at Pinsent Masons and the editor of IT law Web site Out-law.com, said that the accessibility of the PDF (portable document format) was often forgotten, even by those companies that are striving to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). The DDA, first introduced in 1995 but revised in 2005, requires organisations to make "reasonable adjustments" when catering to the requirements of people with special needs, such as visual impairment.

"The legal duty is to provide the information in a way that is accessible and usable," Robertson told ZDNet UK. "Many PDFs are not accessible and the solution is to provide accessible HTML in addition to PDFs, if you wish to use PDFs."

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