[Athen] Can we teach instructors the rudiments of accessibility?

Deborah Armstrong armstrongdeborah at fhda.edu
Wed Oct 21 11:22:06 PDT 2020

Well, if it's a low vision user they will have trouble magnifying what they want to read without all the ads and popups getting in the way. And if the article is on an inaccessible site, a blind or low-vision user is better off with a word file of the article they want to read.

They can always use Firefox's or Safari's reader mode or Edg'es immersive Reader to clear out the visual clutter too. If those modes are available they will display just the text of the article and Imersive reader can also read it out loud.

But if the user -- especially someone with low vision was trained to use PDF files -- so easy to zoom in and out -- that's why they will want those. Also if they have a reading app they like that can open PDFS, they'll want to use a familiar interface to read.

If you are navigating PDF files with a screen reader though, especially longarticles it can be a real pain. You don't have paragraphs unless it is real accessible. You don't have headings -- there's no structure. And to go to the next page, if the whole article isn't loaded in RAM, you have to press ctrl-PGDN and your screen reader's focus is now at the bottom of the page so you have to press Ctrl-Home to take it back to the top.
You don't have to do all this extra navigating with HTML.

What's worse is that sighted folks usually have no idea whether a PDF is accessible because they are seeing it, not reading it with access technology. If every teacher was required to save a PDF they created as text first and then imagine trying to read that text, they'd have a clearer idea of what access technology is presenting to the user.


-----Original Message-----
From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Amy Robasse
Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2020 9:27 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Can we teach instructors the rudiments of accessibility?

Hi Glenn!

Can you explain why html always wins out over a PDF? I work with a couple of blind students who struggle with accessing a lot of articles professors link to due to pop-ups, ads, and other barriers such as requiring a user to enter an email to view the whole article. Because of this they request any longer web articles to be converted to PDF.

Is there something out there I am not aware of that would remove the barriers they are experiencing?

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