Category Archives: retailers

Adobe and NVDA Partnership Improves Accessibility

As Production Manager for the AccessWorks team here at Knowbility, my team and I have spent the past 3 years remediating PDFs and other documents to ensure accessibility.  One of the main issues we face is the inability to reliably test documents using open source screen-readers.  As open source screen-readers like NVDA become more main-stream we believe it is becoming more important than ever to test with them.

Over the past several years we have tried using a number of screen-readers to test documents including JAWS, NVDA, System Access To Go, and Apple’s VoiceOver. While JAWS is our primary testing option, the licensing cost makes it difficult for many small organizations and individuals creating accessible content to adopt JAWS as a primary testing tool for their PDFs.

The next best option for content creators with limited budgets is to use NVDA. While NVDA has many similar functions and hot keys as JAWS, there are still some areas for improvement such as navigating tables in PDF.  In JAWS you can use the “ctrl+alt+arrow” keys to navigate within a table and ensure the proper column and or row headers are read.  In NVDA this is currently not possible.  The only option is to navigate to a table using “T” and then use the arrow keys to navigate within the table without reading column or row headers. An abbreviated list of NVDA hot keys can be found on the WebAIM website.

Collaboration between Adobe and NV Access (the creators of NVDA) will help ensure document testing is complete and accurate when using this open source screen-reader.  It is my hope that this collaboration will not only make NVDA more compatible with accessibility features of Adobe PDF files, but will also help Adobe to further increase the accessibility of the Portable Document Format with the upcoming PDF/UA standard (ISO 14289).

Adobe’s Statement of Support for Open Source Assistive Technology

Retailers – help your customers with disabilities help you!

Shoppin cart keyboardIsn’t it great to be able to make holiday travel arrangements and to purchase gifts online during the holidays at your own convenience?  For people with disabilities who may not have easy access to transportation, the opportunity is invaluable.  If you sell goods and services online, you have an eager market in this group that is 54 million people strong in the United States, maintains an aggregate income that now exceeds $1 trillion, and boasts $220 billion in discretionary spending power according to Fortune Magazine.

As ideal as it sounds, many online retailers fail to reach this valuable market because their web sites are not accessible.  The potential customer is likely to lose interest when form inputs aren’t labeled, graphic elements are not described, or the next step in a purchase process shows up in a modal dialogue that can’t be found by assistive technology.  These and other design barriers can make online shopping miserable for potential buyers with disabilities.

If your customers are frustrated, you want to know about it.  The Web Accessibility Initiative at the W3C has a resource to help them communicate with you in a constructive and useful way.  Consider posting a link on your shopping pages for customers who encounter shopping barriers.

The guide is called Contacting Organizations about Inaccessible Websites and can help your potential customers describe specific areas of pain.  Open the channels of communication to potential customers with disabilities.  You may make their holidays much merrier and give yourself the gift of a new customer who is likely to return.  May your all your holidays be bright!