NVDA Goes PDF/UA with PDF Accessibility Leadership from NetCentric

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To help introduce the benefits of PDF accessibility to users with disabilities, NetCentric is leading the PDF Association project to help the free NVDA screen reader conform to PDF/UA.

The forthcoming International Standard for universally accessible PDF has NetCentric Technologies, a commercial software developer, working hard to help several non-profit organizations develop and promote their free software.

"It's all about end-users, and what works for them," said Duff Johnson, NetCentric Technologies President. "PDF has been a real problem for accessibility for a long time. We think users will want to push for PDF/UA as a means of achieving accessibility compliance objectives," Johnson said.

The PDF Association has partnered with the Swiss non-profit Access for All to join in helping the Australian non-profit NV Access enhance their popular open source NVDA screen reader to become the first assistive technology (AT) to conform to the new ISO standard for universally accessible PDF.

NetCentric Technologies President Duff Johnson has chaired the AIIM committee that wrote PDF/UA since 2005. A Board Member of the PDF Association, NetCentric Technologies has a key role in the just-announced NVDA Goes PDF/UA Project.

NetCentric is committed to expanding understanding and utilization of PDF accessibility technologies. The company actively supports development of free software to help improve PDF accessibility. In 2011, NetCentric made a donation to Access for All to further development of PDF/UA support in Access for All’s PDF Accessibility Checker.

The company urges others interested in promoting accessible electronic documents and the software to read them to consider supporting NV Access’s work to make NVDA the first PDF/UA conforming assistive technology.

NetCentric President Duff Johnson: “Historically, typical PDF files have offered AT users a poor experience. The rules of accessible PDF were fuzzy enough to stymie development of more and better tools. PDF/UA provides clarity, and simplifies the task of ensuring accessibility for consumers, product developers and policy-makers alike.”

For alternative means of access to the content, screen readers and other assistive technologies depend upon a specific feature of PDF known as “tags”. While it has been possible to tag PDF files for accessibility purposes since 2001, the technical specifics were inadequate and ambiguous. To ensure a consistent experience that matches the promise of PDF, software developers and service providers need a common set of rules for establishing accessibility in PDF. Responding to this need, AIIM started the PDF/UA Committee in 2004, a process that has now led to ISO 14289-1, the International Standard for universally accessible PDF, to be published in Q3 of 2012.

About the NVDA goes PDF/UA Project
NVDA goes PDF/UA is an initiative of the PDF Association. A Council of key financial and organizational supporters including Adobe Systems, callas software GmbH and NetCentric Technologies leads the project on behalf of the PDF Association and coordinates with the PDF Association’s PDF/UA Competence Center.

About the PDF Association
The PDF Association is an international non-profit industry organization promoting awareness and adoption of open standards in digital document applications using PDF technology. The association facilitates communication, connections and the sharing of expertise and experience with interested parties worldwide. The current membership includes over 100 enterprises and numerous individual subject-matter experts from more than 20 countries.

About NV Access
NV Access was established in early 2007 as a result of the increasing support needs of the NVDA project. NV Access develops and supports free and open source software that facilitates access to technology for blind and vision impaired people. As a non-profit organization, NV Access’s work is funded primarily through grants and donations.

About Access for All
The goal of the Swiss non-profit foundation, Access for All is to increase awareness in business, science and government of disabled people’s needs, to promote the use and development of technology to meet those needs and to track trends in assistive technology in cooperation with other disability and professional organizations worldwide.

About NetCentric Technologies
NetCentric Technologies is a leading provider of software products and professional services enabling government agencies and corporations in meeting electronic document accessibility obligations, including compliance with Section 508. The company’s CommonLook® product family enables significant savings throughout document production cycles from authoring to verification, remediation and management of PDF documents and document collections.

For more information contact djohnson(at)commonlook(dot)com or call 617.283.4226.

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