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A11y Podcast


Apr 4, 2021

Dax Castro
Welcome to another episode of Chax Chat. Join Chad Chelius and me Dax Castro, where each week we wax poetic about document accessibility topics, tips, and the struggle of remediation and compliance. So sit back, grab your favorite mug of whatever. And let's get started.

Chad Chelius
Welcome, everybody. today's podcast is sponsored by AbleDocs, makers of axesPDF for word, axesPDF QuickFix, as well as document remediation services. So we thank them for being our sponsor for today's podcast. My name is Chad Chelius, I'm a trainer, author, consultant, and PDF remediator among many other things.

Dax Castro
Alright, Chad, welcome to Episode Three. This has been great, really awesome. The feedback on the episodes has been great. And and I think, you know, we both bring a different flavor to our podcast, that really makes it a good a good fit. I mean, don't you agree? What are your thoughts?

Chad Chelius
No, I totally agree. I mean, although both of us have very similar, you know, foundational elements and backgrounds and, and we also agree on different approaches, we come from a little bit of a different angle, you know, and, that's really what kind of caused us to want to create this podcast, right? Because, you know, you and I would get together on the phone and start talking. And we would just kind of go back and forth, you know, on different angles and different approaches, and we would be on the phone. And we're like, there is so much information here that we are talking abo ut that we really want to make it available to everybody.

Dax Castro
Well it's funny.

Chad Chelius
Yeah, I agree.

Dax Castro
We were talking on the phone today. And like literally three different things we were mentioning. I'm like, "We gotta save that for a podcast. We got to save that for a podcast." Right?

Chad Chelius
Yeah,

Dax Castro
It just comes out. Right. So, you know, one of the topics I wanted to talk about this week, Chad, is something that somebody reached out to me on LinkedIn. And they mentioned in something that they were looking at, and they said, Well, you know, a document can only have one H1 tag, and this document has a bunch of H1 tags. And I just kind of snickered. Right? Like they can't see you but you're smiling, right? Because we get this at almost every conference we go to, someone raises their hand and says "Excuse me, you can only have one H1" and I… bless their heart, I appreciate that web accessibility is what most people who are in the accessibility world start out with, but document accessibility actually allows for more than one H1, as long as it's done appropriately. Right. I was remediating this PowerPoint, literally just yesterday. And in between their slides you I started remediating it and page one had a title of course, that's the H1. And then of course, the next slide had a title and content and it went down through the thing and I started tagging things. Now me, I'm tagging the title as an H1, and then the slide title as an H1 as well, as I'm going through the document, because it just makes sense, right? It's okay to have the one H1 as the title and the one H1 for each of the slides. But what I didn't realize was once I got halfway through the document, that they had these next-level title pages like to separate the different sections, and I'm like, "Oh, crap," because that is an appropriate use of Heading Level One. So I had to go back and re tag all my headings so that the title was an H1, all the slide titles, were H2s. And then when you got to that section break, that comes back to your H1 again, right? That's a good example of why that where H1s matter, right? Where how, yes, it matters.

Chad Chelius
Well, and not only that, I mean, you may not run into this as much with say, a PowerPoint presentation. But when you get into larger documents, remember, we only have six heading levels,

Dax Castro
Right…

Chad Chelius
You know what I mean? And and so like when you get into documents that have like, like, let's just start like a, you know, a chapter title, right? Well, H1, and then you've got sub-heads and sub-sub-heads. And a lot of times they'll go pretty deep into the hierarchy of headings. And if I chew up a heading level by saying only the title of the document can be an H1. Now, I only have five heading levels to work with.

Dax Castro
Exactly. That’s a great point.

Chad Chelius
Yeah, I mean, that's one of the reasons why I've always and going back to what you said about the web, I used multiple H1 on the web. I met now I don't do HTML as much as I used to. But HTML5, one of the reasons that they created these structural elements, like an aside, right, a header and a footer is because you can have an H1 in an aside within the overall context of a webpage. Now, we may have web designers out there who are going to crucify me for saying that…

Dax Castro
They will.

Chad Chelius
But fundamentally, you know, you you you you can do it but but from document accessibility, absolutely. You know, I mean, what you don't want to do never use that H tag. I wish Acrobat would get rid of that and InDesign too. But yeah, you know, I do use multiple H1s, you know, for like the chapter, the title chapter titles, so on and so forth.

Chad Chelius
Well, I will tell you what's interesting is you and I have a different opinion about that. So I have poured through… So there's a document, which is the ISO 14289-1, which is the Best Practices for Syntax for PDF/UA, right. And I think I mentioned that previous podcast, you really do need to go download that document, it costs like 80 bucks or something. But it's it's great for syntax. And one of the things that it mentions in there is the use of the H tag and what it really is for. So the H tag is a generic, it's kind of an ambiguous heading, that PDF/UA realizes that sometimes there are heading structures within a document that don't fall into H1, H2, H3 that in one certain section, that there's a heading below, let's say your H3 that is visually a heading, but it's really not an H4 because H4 is a certain other heading in other sections. Like there's there's an anomaly, right? There's some times where you have a heading structure in a certain section, where it doesn't necessarily follow the same style, there's an extra heading. Right and, and so the H tag is designed to be that ambiguous. "I'm not going to give you a number heading" heading. The problem is no screen reader will recognize that it exists. And it just reads it as a paragraph.

Chad Chelius
Interesting. Dax I just learned something. Um, you know, I had no idea. So like, maybe a good example would be like a lot of times in a designed document, you have a sidebar,

Dax Castro
Right.

Chad Chelius
Right. And in that sidebar, there's kind of like a heading for the sidebar and then content. So you're saying that instead of picking a heading level that is logical to the page, you can assign the H tag to that heading as an ambiguous heading to be used for that purpose only. The only downside is a screen reader is not going to identify it as a heading.

Chad Chelius
Right. And I'll give you a really good example. I do a lot of technical documents for point, you know, the section is 1.2.5.4. And then there's paragraph text right? So 1.2.5.4 is four levels deep, right? So we are H4 already. And underneath that section, they may have broken out into three different sub paragraphs. But those topics are maybe it's , Water, Wastewater, Land Use and Energy, right? And they've got headings inside those that that H4 right. So what do you do with that? does it become an H5? Well, really, the document dictates that 1.2.3.4.5 would be your H5. So you would mess up your tag structure, you would create a weird experience if you were to tag these, these three different sections as an H5. So this is a prime example where an H tag would be super useful, because it doesn't screw up my normal number order, my numbered heading lists, because it's just a heading. It's just bold text that happens to be a little bigger inside this section. But it's not part of my navigable numbered structure for my headings. And that's the purpose for the H tag. The problem again is that it's a it was only it was implemented by PDF/UA, but none of the screen reading companies jaws or NVDA have adopted it. The other thing is, is that you can go beyond H6 with PDF/UA, if you have the PDF/UA identifier, the goal is is that identifier triggers the ability to go Past H6 and go on and find item. If you wanted to have an H 12. You could have an H 12. Again, the problem is no screen reader out there will understand or look for that to recognize that "Hey, this is a PDF ua document. And therefore I can go past that." So if you tag them, if you add the marker and tag it as an H11. You're just going to get a paragraph. Right. So again, it's very frustrating, right? And I talked to Jeff Johnson about this.

Chad Chelius
Yeah,

Dax Castro
Because he said, you know, look, we write the code, we write we write the rules, if the screen reader programs out there aren't willing to follow the rules. We're not going to bend those rules to meet them. They need to come up to us.

Chad Chelius
Absolutely. And I had that same conversation with Duff because and I think that's important for all of us to understand. And when we talk about standards, it applies to web standards. It applies to you know, PDF, you know, document accessibility, and that is that PDF/UA is creating the standard. But then it's up to everybody to follow that standard. Well, right. I mean, if we go back to the browser wars, you know, you and I are old enough To remember, you know, in the 90s, where, where people would write code that would work in one browser but wouldn't work in another.

Chad Chelius
Or remember it used to be you'd go to a website, and it's a best experience using Netscape Navigator.

Chad Chelius
Netscape Navigator, yeah. But But yeah, and that's the challenge that we all face as PDF document specialists is, you know, we can follow the standard to the tee. But if the assistive technology is not following that same standard, the experience may not be what we intended, and that's the harsh reality.

Chad Chelius
See, and I have a very firm stance on this. And there are a lot of people who do not agree with my stance, and my stance is user experience first. If I have to bend the rules, to make something, have a good user experience, and I can validate, I've tested it with JAWS, tested it with NVDA. It's not just Dax's idea for accessibility, it is a valid testable way to say look, doing it this way, you know, the, you know, option B is a better user experience than option A. And, but option A is more code compliant, I'm going to go with option B every time because in the end, and I say this all the time, you're not going to get sued, because you didn't follow 7.2.14 of PDF/UA, you're gonna get sued because they tried to read your table in a screen reader, and they didn't get the information they were expecting, right. And so for me, my user experience always trump's the rule except for when it's an inconsistent user experience. So I will say my caveat is, if JAWS reads at one way, NVDA reads it another way. And they're very, very different. I'm not going to just say, Well, I want everybody to use JAWS or it's going to work for JAWS, but not for NVDA. I'm going to at that point, I might punt and say, I'm going to follow the standard. And it will work mostly for both of them.

Chad Chelius
It's a bit of a sticky wicket, though. Because you're you're kind of that coder in 1993, who was writing it to work with one browser.

Dax Castro
Right.

Chad Chelius
And, and maybe not on the other. So and so I so this is where where, you know, this podcast is great, because my approach is a bit different.

Dax Castro
Okay.

Chad Chelius
My approach is to remediate to the standard, and how it's read is out of my control. You know

Dax Castro
Right.

Chad Chelius
So now I, you know, I, I completely agree with what you're doing, though, because at the end of the day, you want the user experience to be great. I guess I'm taking more of the approach where I'm trying to help the standard. I'm trying to kind of force JAWS and force NVDA, and force all the assistive technology to abide by the standards so that we all have a consistent experience.

Dax Castro
Well, and I will take this…

Chad Chelius
It's a big ask, I know.

Chad Chelius
Yeah, and I will take this opportunity to say if anybody from jaws is listening to us right now, please contact me. I have a list of like eight different things that you guys could literally… Right now there's a thing NVDA is slowly creeping up to overtake the amount of jaws users, right. And I will tell you, there are things in NVDA that don't work, right, just like there are things that just don't work, right. And if you want to be better than the competition, I can tell you all those things that need to be fixed. Table summaries is one of the first ones that comes to mind. But anyway, the I love going to CSUN every year because I get to go talk with the people at the different booths and literally sit down with the people with JAWS. Now, it doesn't always mean that they're going to go take notes, write it, go home and fix it. But at least there's a touch point and then do the same thing with Adobe MAX, being able to go in and talk to those teams has been great. And and I'm looking forward to it. Speaking of talking to teams… So Nolan Haimes, who is if you don't if people listening to this podcast, don't know who Nolan is. Nolan runs… teaches PDF or excuse me, teaches PowerPoint, how to create PowerPoints, right? He is a great instructor and I was with him at I watched one of his section sessions at I want to say it was Axe-con or CSUN. I can't remember which, but learned a ton of great ways to create PowerPoints in different ways. He is a master of being able to change charts and graphs in a way that gives you something different visually. And it's great. But he reached out to me and said, "Hey, Dax. I'm meeting with the Microsoft team on for some, you know, Q&A. And can you tell me what the top three things are about that are barriers and in PowerPoint?" and I said, Wow, me and Chad, were just talking about this in our, our podcast, right? And I said, the artifact tag is not really a tag. They've decided to call it a tag and assign it right. And so I walked through that whole thing. He actually presented that to the Microsoft team. So I don't know if anything will happen from it, but at least they're hearing, at least they they've got that information. So I felt a little a little heard. A little bit more represented.

Chad Chelius
Yes, yes, absolutely. Yeah.

Chad Chelius
Awesome. Um, so next month is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, right? I don't know if you were you knew that or not. But it is on May 16. It is January, February, March, April, May. Yeah, that is next month, I always have to count on my fingers. I don't know why. Since I was little, I've never been able to transcribe the numbers to the months. It's a thing. I'm just I don't know, if there's people listening, I always have to count on my fingers. Right. So it's May 16, Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Sorry. Um, and, you know, it is a great opportunity, if you are in the accessibility space, to to tell people what it is you do. Not the same people that you always talk to all the time. But maybe you post on your own private Facebook "Hey, accessibility is a thing." And and this is…

Chad Chelius
Oh, yeah

Dax Castro
I accidentally posted on my Facebook and I don't have very many Facebook followers on my personal Facebook, I think I've got like, I don't know, 200 or 300 friends, I don't have a lot. And I accidentally posted a video presentation of one of my accessibility sessions that I meant to post in the PDF Accessibility Facebook group. And I just didn't change the profile and it post on my private channel. Three of my friends were like, "Dude, I didn't know this was a thing. This is great! Um, give me more information." So reach out to those people that you may not think care about accessibility, because you'll never know what comes out from it.

Chad Chelius
Yeah, absolutely.

Dax Castro
Yeah. Awesome. Um, it's time for our "Who's on Twitter." Right. So we do this thing every week. And, you know, so last week, I don't know if you heard if you didn't listen to last week's podcast it was well, actually, it was our very first podcast was our rhyming accessibility rhyming guy on Twitter. So go back. I can't think of what his Twitter handle is right now. Go back and listen to that. But today's "Who's on Twitter" is actually not Twitter. So she has a a medium page, right. So this is Medium is articles, people who write articles, use Medium.com. So her name is Sheri Byrne-Haber. And she is CPACC certified, which is the International Association of Accessibility Professionals certification. And it is the Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies, which is a long way to say "she has a really good understanding of accessibility overall." And she she's got this. So her I'll link to her, medium page in the transcript for this, but it's sheribyrnehaber.medium.com. And she's always got these great articles. Her profile says she's "a blogger, disability advocate and nerd bringing the fire on ableism. She is an architect at VMware, wheelchair user, with a deaf daughter. And she specializes in law and has a business background." So I want to have her Chad. We should have you on as a guest. What do you think?

Chad Chelius
I think that'd be fantastic. I think she could bring a really interesting insight that can help us all with with what we do.

Dax Castro
Yeah, I was thinking that maybe she could talk on the how to create an accessibility program within your organization. Right? How do you start that? Right? And that's such a big topic, right? I know, I presented at Axe-con on this topic. And there were a lot of a lot of good feedback. But it's really hard, right? Because you've got a different couple of different ways to approach it. Most of us. It's bottom up, right? Someone says, "Hey, you know stuff about website, you know, stuff about, you know, Word docs learn how to make this accessible. It's got to be a thing."

Chad Chelius
Yeah, yeah, no, you're right. And, you know, we actually went through some of that when we were writing questions for the IAAP exam.

Dax Castro
No, yeah, that was the hardest…

Chad Chelius
You know. Yeah. Yeah. where, you know, we basically, you know, part of the certification is helping to implement an accessibility process in your organization. And, and you're absolutely right. A lot of times it starts at the bottom and goes up, like you've got to convince your managers your superiors, that this is a thing, that this is important, you know, and it's,

Dax Castro
It's like pushing mud uphill

Chad Chelius
It is. It is.

Dax Castro
Well, I will say that she's she's got some great perspectives on this. And I'd love to love to have her on. So we'll, we'll see if we can schedule her as a future guest.

Chad Chelius
That'd be awesome.

Dax Castro
Awesome. Now, Chad, when you're remediating how much of a deep dive do you look at for things like color blindness in your infographics and things, when you're trying to validate for compliance? Are your clients concerned about that? Or do you use it as part of your accessibility checklist? Or tell me more about that?

Chad Chelius
Yeah, so I mean, I definitely do. But, you know, as a, as somebody who remediates PDFs, you know, I don't work for an organization where I have a lot of control over the process, you know, so, so often a client will come to me and say, make this document accessible. You know…What, one of the things that that I know, we both preach Dax, is that you've got to think about accessibility at the beginning, and not the end.

Dax Castro
Right

Chad Chelius
And, you know, if a client gives me a PDF file and says, make this accessible, there's not a lot I can do about the color contrast at that point.

Dax Castro
Right.

Chad Chelius
Um, you know, I mean, because you know, you you're fighting me, personally, I'm fighting an uphill battle to try to get that addressed. You know, what I mean, which goes even beyond PDF remediation at all.

Dax Castro
Right.

Chad Chelius
Now, if I have the source documents, it's a little bit easier, right. You know, I mean, I do a lot of InDesign work. And so I do check for color contrast. I also check for for colorblind, you know, accessibility, and I will make recommendations to the client. Right. I will say, "Hey, listen, you know, this, this does not have sufficient contrast. Can we make a change here?"

Dax Castro
Yeah. You know, what's interesting is that illustrator has a colorblind mode. I don't know if you knew that. But you can go into the View > Proof Setup. And then you can set deuteronopia or protonopia. And the GOP is the most common, it's that red green color blindness. And then you just do proofs color, you check the box for Proof Preview, right. But what's interesting is InDesign doesn't have one right now. And I wish again, Adobe folks if you're listening, can we just add that to InDesign? I'd love to be able to just turn it on and have all my things valid.. you know, the show me "colorblind mode," because it just makes it so much easier. Now I do use Microsoft Simulations, which is a really good colorblind checker. And the nice thing is it floats over any program I have in my computer. And then on my phone, I actually have Sim Daltonism, it's actually for Mac or PC and Sim Daltonisms nice when you're in a room with people, right? And they bring you a printed document and you're like, "Oh, that's a colorblind barrier." And they say "What?" let me show you and I opened it up, swipe, open the app, and I hold it over the over the document, like, "Whoa!" and so you know, so it's really, really great. But you're right. I mean, a lot of times, there's kind of two flavors of accessibility, right? It's, "here's the document, it's already done. The cake is baked. Now make it accessible" Then there's the other ones where "Here's our source, we're in the modification process, can you you know, make it accessible do we need to do?" The problem is, is that sometimes even when you have the source, the graphics inside it have already been approved by like three or four different layers of approval?

Chad Chelius
Yeah.

Dax Castro
And you can't always go back to them and say, Hey, you know, agents Agency ABC, this is a colorblind barrier for the 30 maps you have going on. Right now or working on environmental impact report for a large client. The document is 6000 pages, Chad

Chad Chelius
Wow, wow

Dax Castro
There are 50 or 60. maps in the document. And the nice thing has been is that for the past six months, we've been I've been meeting with their graphic design team, or the GIS team talking about how to create the colorblind awareness, you know, using a palette that's colorblind friendly, of course, The Use of Color, only WCAG rule, you know, 1.4.1 says, you know, you cannot use color alone as the only means of communicating information. So, right teaching them that principle, allows them to just take it and run with it, and then make a set of maps for me to review rather than them trying failing me to reviewing it, telling them they're wrong, then going back and trying something else, which just eats up time, like like nobody's business. So…

Chad Chelius
Oh, it does. And, you know, going back to your point about, you know, within an organization, you know, sometimes you know, I'll get a PDF from my client, where somebody gave them the PDF, right and it I don't know how else to put this, but like it all rolled downhill. And by the time it gets to me, I'm like four steps removed.

Dax Castro
Yep.

Chad Chelius
From from whoever created the document. A lot of times my client doesn't know who created the document.

Dax Castro
Sure.

Chad Chelius
So it's really a challenging thing. But another thing I wanted to bring up, Dax, we're talking about the color blindness. Adobe recently implemented a feature on their Adobe Color website.

Dax Castro
Right, exact, yeah.

Chad Chelius
That allows you to see a colorblind safe color themes. And if, if you guys are not familiar with Adobe Color, go to color.adobe.com. And basically, Adobe Color is is a tool that is designed to help you pick colors for your project. You can choose different color harmonies, you know, it'll, pick colors that go well with other colors. But if you look at the top of the page, there is an accessibility tools category now.

Dax Castro
Yep.

Chad Chelius
And one of the intents you can choose is colorblind-safe, right. And when you pick a theme, it'll tell you like, if two colors are in conflict, and like to make some adjustments to try to get them out of conflict.

Dax Castro
Well, what I really love to be the ability to drag those little circles around. I mean, this works really well when you when you have the flexibility of just color, trial and error. When you're just trying to come up with a color scheme that works. And you know, basically what it does is as you drag these little circles around, it shows you it tells you instantly it says I'm looking at one right now it says C and D are in conflict, move the swatches on the color wheel to make colors distinct and colorblind safe. So it gives you some ideas, you can plug in the hex values, or you can change the color mode to R.G.B. or C.M.Y.K. or whatever color space you're using. Um, you know, what was interesting is there is a at Axe-con, there was a presentation by someone [James Sullivan] on color for the web [Accessibility in Color Systems]. Now, what was awesome is and I caught the last half of the session, they use a color model that uses these numbers that aren't hex or aren't RGB or any of that. And he can say, "Look, use this any color in the 600 series or any color in the 500 series with a color from the 200 series." Like he gives you these because of the way the color system is arranged. He it gives you the ability to give general like color ranges that work well together. And, you know, I'll have to reach out maybe in a future podcast, I'll figure out who that was [James Sullivan] that was and give it some more specific information. But I thought wow, it'd be great if we could implement that in a document level. But we're so married to to R.G.B., C.M.Y.K. that you know, even even Hex color.

Chad Chelius
L.A.B.

Dax Castro
L.A.B., yeah, exactly. But ya know, color.adobe.com is a great tool. And, and they are, the nice thing is, is that it links to your CC library, too.

Chad Chelius
Yeah, like once you find a theme, like I said, whether it's colorblind safe or not, you can save that theme to a Creative Cloud Library, which then in turn becomes accessible to all of your Creative Cloud Applications. And you can even access it on your phone, if you want to, which is kinda neat.

Dax Castro
Right which is awesome in a team environment. And I think it's probably one of the most underutilized features of all the Adobe programs is the CC libraries. Because it's not just color, you can drag in styles, objects, swatches, I mean, symbols, right? The ability to have consistent symbols across multiple editors is super key, because everybody wants to nudge something this way or that way. And, you know, change it slightly. It's like, Look, use this use the symbol the way it is. And that's and you know, anybody can walk into the document and know exactly what they're supposed to use.

Chad Chelius
So yeah. And so if any of you are, you know, are curious about that, or want to know more about, you know, the Creative Cloud libraries. in the show notes. I'll put a link to my LinkedIn Learning course on the Adobe Creative Cloud that covers the libraries and Creative Cloud documents and stuff.

Dax Castro
Awesome. Yeah, I didn't even know that you had a LinkedIn course on Creative Cloud. That's cool. I'll definitely refer you there. All right, Chad. Well, that's another episode, man. We did it again. Um, you know, I literally could sit here and talk all for hours with you about all this stuff.

Chad Chelius
Yeah. Likewise, I mean, you know, once we get going, you know, we try to stay focused, but the subject matter you know, PDF accessibility, just causes us to go off on these tangents, you know, like, one thing just leads to another and there's so much content to cover. So thanks, everybody, for joining us this week. Just as a reminder, Dax and I are speaking at the Creative Pro Conference this year, which is on May 17, to 21st due to COVID it is an online only event. But Dax and I have done multiple of these now. And believe it or not, the online events have gotten really great feedback. So don't let the fact that you're not in person with anybody deter you. There's lots of great content to be covered. And we hope to see you there.

Dax Castro
You know, one of the great, the great features about those conferences is that even though the material the sessions themselves, for the most part, because there are live sessions, a lot of them are recorded. But the nice thing is, is that we're sitting in the chat. And when people are asking questions, it's really great to be able to answer those questions right there. Because, you know, how many times are you on stage? Can you just stop and be like, Hey, I'm gonna answer your question. Right.

Chad Chelius
Right. Right. Right.

Dax Castro
So it's a great feature of being you know, some people think all well, it's just a bunch of recordings. No, not really, there's a lot of really good interaction that's going on inside the chats. And then we do have live panels and live Q&A and all of that after the session where you can go into the chat rooms and video chat with us and talk about the different questions you have. It's, it was really a great experience. I really liked that aspect of the virtual event. Well, alright guys, thank you so much for joining us again for another week of Chax Chat with Chad chilliest and me Dax Castro, where we take you down the road of remediation and unravel accessibility for you. Join us next week where we're going to have some guest speakers and some more great topics for you to enjoy.

Chad Chelius
See you later, guys.