March 15, 2018

IBM’s Content Manager OnDemand and Accessible Documents – a great marriage

Kent Reser | Partner Sales Manager
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Many people consider IBM’s Content Manager OnDemand (CMOD) to be the premier transaction and customer facing document repository in the industry. It is also perhaps the best platform from which to serve up said documents to internal and external audiences.  Rather than recreate the wheel with redundant processes and repositories to address an emerging business requirement, why not extend this versatile platform to include the rapidly growing demand for digitally accessible documents? These “new” documents are designed to serve the blind and partially sighted constituencies addressed by the ADA, Section 508 and many other US and international guidelines and regulations


Accessible Documents

Accessible digital documents, which are principally Accessible PDF and HTML5 are a rapidly growing required format and delivery obligation for many enterprises – especially those that deal in any way with governmental entities.  There is significant risk and surprisingly high cost in adopting the narrow minimalist “Accommodation Strategy” that many companies follow.  This approach exposes companies to unplanned and unbudgeted risk and expense of litigation as well as reactive remediation labor and cost in the effort to make documents accessible as “one-off” exercises.

A more comprehensive “Compliant” strategy greatly reduces the risk and expense in the long run.  This compliant approach is pro-active and constituent-friendly,  and will go a long way toward establishing a reputation as a good and progressive corporate citizen to this underserved population. Some context and detail for this discussion follows.

Extend CMOD for Accessible Documents

Post Composition and post archive Remediation Advantages

Many enterprises that are struggling to cope with  accessibility requirements produce “remediated” or accessibly tagged content at document composition time. This is perhaps the most common approach.  Consider though that this approach “locks-in” the tagging at composition time so that adjustments cannot be easily made afterward, even if requirements, standards, etc. change.  We can refer to this as “early binding” of content to tags. Furthermore, this adds potentially significant overhead to the document size at composition time, which carries through all downstream processes and storage requirements. Finally, consider that this “remediates” or tags all documents even though only a fraction of them will ever be viewed in their accessible form.

A better approach for many is “late binding” of tags to documents by remediation on demand.  In this Best Practices recommendation, the document can be retained in its native format or print/display language and stored into the repository, such as CMOD.  Tags are designed but not “bound” to the document within the repository.  When needed for an accessible request, the document is retrieved from CMOD, transformed to PDF or HTML 5, and the accessibility tags are thus applied at the point of consumption.  These tagged documents can then be rendered into any of a broad set of WCAG 2.0 accessible formats including Accessible PDF and HTML5, readable by assistive technologies.

The advantages of this approach are clear.  A compliant accessibility strategy applied in this way will result in

  • significantly increased flexibility and agility
  • greatly decreased remediation processing and cost
  • greatly decreased storage requirements and cost
  • extending current platform vs a special purpose and redundant solution
  • process and specialized expertise simplification and reduction

Consider also that all of this as described above can be implemented today with CMOD.  Many enterprises are creating redundant repositories, processes, labor, storage, etc needlessly to address this accessibility requirement.  Why not leverage the best transaction and customer document repository in the industry to achieve the optimal future-proofed accessibility solution available today?  Don’t let the Accessible Document wave swamp you.  Explore this great marriage of Accessible Documents and CMOD.

Crawford Technologies is a global leader in document accessibility products, services and domain expertise as well as helping customers extend their Enterprise Content Management investments to embrace new use cases and add business value.

If you’re attending IBM Think next week, stop by at booth 733 to learn more about how we can help you extend your content repository.