moderated Re: Tutorials on Creating Accessible MS-Word Fillable Forms Plus Examples of Those Forms


On Wed, Nov 25, 2020 at 03:58 PM, mike mcglashon wrote:
I can see where sighted persons love pdf because they can take a picture of the paper form scan it in as image and be done with it.
Which is fine, if all you plan to ever do it print on paper again.   Also, very few scanning utilities these days don't create PDF files with a text layer associated with them if the thing being scanned contains text.  Image scanned PDFs really are largely a thing of the past, but so many were created during that period of many years that untold millions almost certainly exist.  One of the first things I taught my clients who were students getting image scanned PDFs as part of their required reading was how to OCR scan them with PDF-XChange Viewer and save the file, which keeps the text layer as part of the PDF.  I also suggested that they hand copies of these off to their professors and ask that the OCRed version be made the repository copy as opposed to the image scanned original.

I have never seen anyone create a form using automation, only a human sitting behind a desk, as there's so much trial and error getting things to look the way you want them to.  It should certainly be possible if one is using automation to create a fillable PDF that at least the various fillable fields would be identified in some way, but even that would rely on the human designer using whatever syntax is required to have that happen.

The problem with legally mandating any of this is that there is really no way to enforce it, at least not effectively, along with the fact that, as I said earlier, there are just too many people who don't have a clue as to how to do what's needed for something to be accessible.

You also make a good point with, "I think it would be unreasonable, let alone impossible, to ask the “majority” sighted persons, to take “extra time” to create such forms, when the “majority” of persons using the forms are in fact sighted?"   There are untold millions of forms that get created for small organizations, groups, etc., where there is absolutely no reason for them to be accessible when push comes to shove.  Material is created with target demographics in mind.  I would be thrilled if the realization finally hit that when that demographic is, "the general public," that accessibility must be kept in mind and implemented.  If there are to be legal mandates, they would need to be carefully targeted if there is any hope of having the ability to enforce.  I've created plenty of inaccessible stuff in my life, about which I have zero regrets, because I knew the target audience did not include, and would never include, a screen reader user.  Most of that sort of stuff was questionnaires for business meetings, flyers for street festivals, and the like.  But, back to your original point, it's really not exclusively about whether the majority of people using something are sighted, it's about whether it's reasonable to believe that same would also be expected to be used by those who are visually impaired or blind.  Things like IRS tax forms (or at least the ones I've dealt with) that are PDF fillable forms are accessible and should be because there is every reason to expect that many who are blind will have to deal with them.  And, for large organizations, not limited to the government, having accessibility designed in saves a fortune in "help desk hours" over the life of the form.  There are many who are now cluing in to that fact.  Better late than never.

Brian - Windows 10 Pro, 64-Bit, Version 20H2, Build 19042  

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.

           ~ André Gide

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