Letter to the Editor
William Matthews' article, "GSA sounds false 508 alarm" [FCW, April 16], quotes from a General Services
Administration memorandum that mistakenly instructs Web managers to delete
old Web-based documents, among them "non-508-compliant files such as...PDF
files" before the June compliance date.
While Matthews' article corrects certain inaccuracies in the memo, the
story may still have left readers with the impression that Adobe Systems
Inc. Portable Document Format (PDF) files can't be made accessible and must
be removed from government Web sites. In truth, neither is the case.
Given the ubiquity of PDF files on the Web today and the impending government
deadlines, I want to assure your readers that Adobe is committed to this
issue and that we have worked hard to improve the accessibility of our Acrobat
software as well as the information contained in Adobe PDF files.
With Acrobat 5.0, the new version of our product for creating and sharing
Adobe PDF documents online, we've made a number of enhancements in this
regard. Among them are features we provide to help users create and optimize
Adobe PDF files and forms for accessibility. These includes automated tools
for the creation of tagged, or structured, Adobe PDF files, as well as a
free plug-in available on our Web site that adds tags to documents created
with earlier versions of Acrobat. The ability to add structure is important
because it enables Adobe PDF files to work with screen reader products,
which synthesize text to speech for blind people.
Other advances include high-contrast viewing and text re-flow for people
with visual impairments and enhanced keyboard shortcuts for those with motion
Adobe supports the government's effort to make the Web accessible to
all citizens, and we will continue our work to be certain products like
Acrobat and formats like Adobe PDF support this end.
ePaper Solutions Group
Adobe Systems Inc.