October 2006
Volume 1 Issue 1

Welcome to the Great Lakes ADA Center's quarterly Accessible Technology Bulletin

Trainings & Events

Cognitive Disability and Technology
October 24, 2006
Broomfield, CO
This conference is sponsored by the Coleman Institute. There is a registration fee. For more information go to:
Web Captioning and Its Uses in Education
October 25, 2006
2:00pm CST
A webcast sponsored by the National on Disability and Access to Education. The webcast is free but requires registration.
Higher Education Addressing Teacher Shortages and the Emerging Role of Technology
November 8-11, 2006
San Diego, CA
Sponsored by Teacher Education Division of Council of Exceptional Children. To register visit:
9th Annual Accessing Higher Ground: Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference for Education, for Businesses, for Web and Media Designers
November 9 10, 2006
Boulder, CO
This conference is being held at the University of Colorado. To register:
Creating Accessible and Usable PDF Documents
November 14, 21, 28 and Dec. 5
2:00pm EST
A 4-part series, sponsored by Equal Access to Software and Information. There is a fee for this course, register at:
World Usability Day
November 14, 2006
9:00am to 5:00pm
East Lansing, MI
Sponsored by Michigan State University Usability and Accessibility Center. The event is free, but registration is required by November 7, 2006.
Webcast on the Functional Accessibility Evaluator (FAE)
November 15, 2006
2:30 - 3:30 CST
The FAE analyzes web resources for markup that is consistent with "best practices" for development of functionally accessible web resources. This event is free, but registration is required at:
Access to Devices and Technology for Sensory Impaired and Learning Disabled Workshop
December 5, 2006
8:00am to 4:00pm
Madison, WI
Hosted by the Madison Area Technical College. It is free, but pre-registration is required by e-mailing Renata at:

A New Grant for the Great Lakes ADA Center

The Great Lakes ADA and Accessible IT Center has been serving the region of Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Indiana since 1991 as a project of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Recently, we received funding to continue from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services.

There will be a few changes to the Center in this next grant cycle. First, we have a new name: " Great Lakes ADA Center".

There are 10 centers in National ADA Network across the nation. The National ADA Network provide a central, comprehensive resource on ADA issues in employment, public services, public accommodations, and communications. Each ADA center works closely with local business, disability, governmental, rehabilitation, and other networks to provide ADA information and assistance.

The Centers new goals include: 1) Increase employment outcomes for people with disabilities, 2) Increase community participation of people with disabilities, and 3) Help ensure full implementation of the ADA.

The Great Lakes ADA Center will also expand our 2001 initiative addressing accessible information technology in schools. The new Center technology activities will include more in-depth training and technical assistance to businesses regarding accessible and assistive technology.

The Center will also be creating a resource toolkit to aid students transitioning from post-secondary school to employment. The toolkit will be piloted with Wisconsin Technical Colleges and made available in the Great Lakes Region.

This new publication, the Accessible Technology Bulletin, will replace the K-12 Bulletin which began in 2005. The new bulletin will reflect the broader audience we are trying to reach. The Accessible Technology Bulletin will be produced quarterly and highlight training and resources on accessible and assistive technology. Archived issues of the K-12 Bulletin are still available on our website.

Please feel to send comments and/or questions on the new bulletin to Janet Peters, Project Coordinator.

Accessible PDF Documents

Many people have used or seen PDF files and they are an increasingly common method to distribute content over the internet.

There are many advantages compared to HTML or proprietary formats (such as Microsoft Word). The key to understanding PDF is really to think of it as electronic paper. It is designed for device independent and resolution independent viewing and printing of page based documents. While physical paper is relatively simple, electronic paper is far more complex. Maintaining independence from the viewing platforms requires adding a lot of extra information into the file.

It is important to understand that PDF is not a word processing file format. It is really more of a free format file which the text of the document; and formatting code such as the fonts, character encoding, images, color spaces, patterns to view and print like a paper version.

Access to these different objects is through a lookup table and therefore a PDF file is not in a natural "read" order. For example, from the start of the PDF file, paragraph 2 does not necessarily follow paragraph 1. Page 2 may come after page 4.

In the past, PDF files have been largely inaccessible, particularly to people using screen readers. Adobe has made great strides in allowing those create PDF files to adding "structure" and other features to increase their usability by people with disabilities.

However, few authors are currently creating tagged PDF files, either because this requires additional effort or because of lack of awareness. Authors are also limited by the capabilities of their word processing or desktop publishing tools, many of which have PDF export capabilities that do not currently support tagged PDF format. Some users may also not realize how to access a PDF file to take advantage of some features making it easier to access.

Adobe provides a guide to creating to accessible PDF documents with Adobe Acrobat version 7. Create Accessible PDF Documents with Adobe Acrobat (PDF, 10.3M). They also have general information on accessibility on their website at www.adobe.com/accessibility.

Technical information on creating "tags" can be found at the magazine Accessible Content in their article Playing Tag: Creating Accessible PDF files.


The Great Lakes ADA Center provides expert assistance via a national toll-free information line 800-949-4232 (V/TTY) or Online via Contact Us and presents customized trainings for employers, businesses, government, and individuals with disabilities regarding accessible technology and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

Great Lakes ADA and Accessible IT Center
University of Illinois at Chicago
Department of Disability and Human Development (MC 728)
1640 West Roosevelt Road, Room 405
Chicago, IL 60608-6904

Last Updated on:
Wed Jul 3, 2013