March 28, 2018

From CSUN Assistive Technologies Conference to Auto Tagger for Accessibility

Dennis Quon, EDP | Solutions Development Manager Document Accessibility Solutions
CSUN logo

The 38th edition of the California State University at Northridge (CSUN) Assistive Technologies Conference is now in the books.  This event has been held for 33 years in San Diego and it is with a bit of melancholy that they will be leaving and moving to Anaheim, CA in 2019.  Hello, Mickey!

Keynote speaker Daniel Goldstein, an attorney in the field of disability rights who has worked tirelessly with the National Federation of the Blind best said it. “It’s been 38 years — why has accessibility still not become part of everyday lives? In less than a 38 year interval, we have been able to put a man on the moon… If accessibility became mainstream, a conference like CSUN would no longer exist!“

Technology is being applied at a rapid pace to the world of document accessibility – finally.  Automation and auto tagging are finally here.  We are now beginning to see compelling solutions to a challenging reality - that PDF tagging is a slow and less than a simple process.  The result is that traditional techniques of using manual remediation and page-by-page software tagging is putting companies far behind the eight ball in delivering accessible documents. However, with the availability of high speed, ad hoc document remediation for published documents, web documents, education materials, office documents and marketing documents, easy, fast and economical remediation is now in reach. More important is the promise this holds for true inclusion for employees and document consumers.

Think of an organization with 100,000 pages of PDFs in archives, servers and on their website.  What’s the best way to make these documents compliant?  Well, they can hire, outsource and train staff to manage communications going forward, but what can they do with the 100,000 existing documents?  Manual remediation at best delivers 32-50 pages a day per person – if that person has good skills. Good tools can push that up to 80-100 pages a day, but that is still a lot of time for all those pages.  If they only have limited days to complete the backlog as a one-time event, what is the solution?  They can outsource but what if the documents need to be in a secure environment?  And hiring the skilled resources required for document tagging is costly and difficult, making it impractical.

Auto Tagger for Accessibility can push through hundreds to thousands of pages in seconds to minutes.  While tagging remains a specialized skill, achieving average accessibility of 70% tagging to completion was noted by many at CSUN as being fantastic.  ALT-Text, complex tables and contrast will always require checking and post remediation touch up, but what if most or all of the text can be automatically tagged?

With tools like CommonLook Global Access and/or Adobe Acrobat PRO, the balance of the document can be cleaned up in minutes.  A typical well formatted document of 500 pages with tables and ALT-Text was benchmarked at a few seconds for auto tagging plus 20 minutes to touch up.  Compare that to 5 days of work!

Auto Tagger for Accessibility can be located on central servers so that any office staff can copy files to a watch folder or to an email address for immediate tagging.  There’s no need to train users to generate and tag content.  This makes document accessibility reachable at a significantly lower price per page.

With more and more tools coming on the market, enterprises and organizations must consider the next generation of workflow tools to meet their regulatory requirements and understand that they can leverage these solutions to do the right thing for their customers.

We’re hosting a webinar on Wednesday, April 11 at 1:00 PM ET called “Eliminate Roadblocks – Simplify and Automate Tagging for Accessibility”. Join us to learn more about how you can automate document tagging and be inclusive.