Skip to main content Skip to main menu

Your PDF’s are like Rolls of Toilet Paper!

By Geof Collis
November 26, 2010

Why is it so much trouble to get people to understand that making documents accessible, especially the Portable Document Format (PDF) doesn’t just benefit people like myself, but everyone who has to read hundreds of 6, 30 or 300 page documents as part of their job description or just trying to educate themselves.

These documents are like Rolls of Toilet Paper, without semantic structure like headings or a Table of Contents trying to find or remember where the information you want is located is difficult enough for the sighted but extremely more so for those with Disabilities, then compound that with having to read more than one at a time.

It’d be like walking up to a building that has 10 floors with 20 rooms on each floor and none of them have signs on the door, the only reference is the name on the front of the building. Now your task is to find the room with the person you are looking for. Either you have a great memory if you’ve been there before or you’ll have to start at the bottom and go to each room, look in until you find the right one with the person you are looking for.

Thankfully they dont do that on buildings, they have Directories or some kind of list at the front that you can use to find exactly the Floor and Room you are looking for. So why is it not the same with PDF documentation? Why is there no “Table of Contents” on large documents or Headings and lists?

It has been expressed to me that since it is difficult for the sighted then why should we make it easier for the Disabled! You’re both on a level playing field.

What a load of rubbish!

It might be difficult for the Sighted but it is more so for those of us who use screen readers, but why should we both suffer?

We used to think that putting Wheelchair Ramps on a building only benefited Wheelchair users but we now know that is not the case, Moms with strollers, Elderly and many others find it easier to use than stairs. So why dont we do the same for PDFs and other documents?

I dont understand that logic that thinks because one group suffers we all have to and I understand even less why some have to wait until it becomes Law under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) for them to do what is the right thing to do Now!.

You’re wasting money to create an inaccessible document so why not use a Cost Effective, Forward thinking way like Accessibil-IT Inc. offers, you spend money wisely, you dont have the Law breathing down your neck and we all become more productive because is accessible to Everyone.

Just because a Document is “Readable” doesn’t make it “Accessible”.