[Athen] Making accessible info with InDesign?

Susan Kelmer Susan.Kelmer at colorado.edu
Mon May 10 07:21:24 PDT 2021

Okay, to be fair...

InDesign is for laying out material. It is what Adobe Pagemaker used to be (for those of you who have been around a while). You make text boxes and add pictures and manipulate layout, and come up with a file that can be printed onto paper. Ala 1990. InDesign and Pagemaker were a replacement for the manual labor of physically creating the paper print using exacto knives and glue and light boards (for those that have been around even longer). In operation, it is not intended to be a program that provides all that accessibility for the outputted file. I do not fault Adobe for this. There is, as far as I know, NO program that will do this completely effectively.

If you want to have an accessible output, you will have to do what you've always done - work it out in Adobe Acrobat Pro on the completed file. InDesign is not a text-based program, like Word is. Word is easy to output into a reasonably accessible PDF. InDesign was never intended for that purpose, and runs on an old Pagemaker backbone that would have to be written from the ground up.

And the only way for that to be a priority for companies like Adobe is if there is money in it. No one is clamoring to Adobe to make InDesign produce accessible PDFs. Until they are, that won't change.

Susan Kelmer
Alternate Format Production Program Manager
Disability Services
Division of Student Affairs
T 303 735 4836

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