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Electronic Document Conference 2019
June 17, 2019, Seattle, WA, USA
Electronic Document Conference 2019
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The sweet spot between automation and human remediation
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About the talk

Peter Shikli, Access2Online | Electronic Document Conference 2019

About speaker

Peter Shikli
Coordinator at Access2online

Taking a break from his duties as Bizware's CEO to focus on Access2online, what he considers his legacy project, Peter Shikli is the CEO. With his hundreds of hands-on website developments since 1995, Mr. Shikli is also a product of the WebAIM school of web accessibility. He has also personally trained every inmate working for Access2online and reviews every work product before it reaches our customers. A UCLA engineer with an MBA, Peter Shikli has over 30 years in software development, high-tech business formation, and project management. He is a Certified Manufacturing Engineer, a Registered Professional Engineer, accredited college instructor, guest lecturer, a Trusted Tester certified by the federal Office of Accessible Systems & Technology, and has published over 40 articles & books.

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Afternoon, my name's Peter shickley. I'm with access to online. We're going to be talking about our Research into finding The Sweet Spot between Automation and and the human remediation when it comes to a PDF accessibility and we'll talk about what we found what we think needs to be done to improve things. And then we are at conclude with an offer to help do so. So let's start by telling you a little bit about how we got into this in the perspective that we're taking two PDFs, which is a somewhat unusual. My

name is UCLA physics engineering and then I worked in the corporate world. Javi PS in that when I started bizwear online applications, we wrote back and application software transactional stuff primarily all online web-based eventually and we wrote One call the passport which animates the the task management online for the virtual Workforce people who are outsourced to teleworkers people who get tasks do them at home management needs to know what's going out of the Thousand

tasks that are open. So we were looking for a market for that and we were looking for people who had a certain level of either Rob dislike of commuting or they had a serious commuting problem. We decided that inmates in prisons have a very serious commuting problem. And so we established a joint venture at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Oregon at the state prison for women, and we taught them how to audit and analyze website. For accessibility and that's that's where we're coming towards PDF at that time two years ago. We

really were not involved with the PDF file world and we were focused primarily on standards like wicked witch is applicable to PDFs week Aggie in which I have not heard of being applied to PDF solo. It really should be it was written to be it was written by the same w3c folks who brought us with gag and it's very useful and that it to methodology by which you can determine what out of a huge online presence needs to be audited for at least the first cut. So if you're faced with are thousands of documents

that already online thousands of web pages, where do you start? This gives you the methodology to do that and for people who find themselves to in front of title to the Ada or some of the other state regulations, this is the way Get started instead of just being scared section 508 primarily just a federal sector version of these things, but they also say that they address the PDF world. We just weren't really involved with it at the early days. We started with things like to become certified trusted testers, which is a rather

rigorous six months training program the office of accessible Systems and Technology puts together. There's a 1-week finally got to score 90% on it's it's rather intensive, but what it caught us and what we brought to the party to follow it was a highly structured methodology if it has anyone objected reliable standard space test criteria with defense particularly. There's a lot of money on the table from somebody who can check this section 508 box or not. So they want that to be done in roughly. The same weight depending on

which analysts is is doing it it so we went through that. There's also owe the International Association of accessibility professionals. They've got their web web accessibility accessibility professional certifications. And then it is part of that course, we we picked up all the tools that we thought could help us. Okay things that could help us analyze the markup on a page all the dynamic content that can appear CSS JavaScript things like that looked at things that could do anything related to productivity or process automation quality assurance

and it's like white stuff like site improvements, you know, you probably heard of those guys cuz they also do PDFs and then what kind of management reporting can we do because Great, many of our clients were we're still kind of struggling with accessibility. They were very talented web designers, but they did not have the focus or the specialty. So we had to give them instructions matching their workflow. So there were tools for helping us to do that. So we felt that we had found The Sweet Spot between automation analysis and that was to empower the analysts not

to replace her and then Along Comes the agency's particularly the government agencies came to a standstill, you know, you guys should really get into PDF for mediation as well. So about January of this year, maybe December we started to take a look at that more seriously and we started looking. You know, what what's out there for standards. We found it as you can see quite a few that sometimes they're there just a similar name for the same thing. Sometimes they overlap something. Play conflict. We had to navigate through that what we found also was that there

was a much less structured testing much less of the objective stuff a lot more subjective expertise for someone who has just done it for a long time. No, see how to do it. They will do the remediation is part of the you the work to be done. Not that much analysis going on it. It's usually just in and out and back out with the with the PDF document. But but that was the area where we were surprised the things that we called the Pats voluntary product II accessibility templates kind of like and methodologies to make sure you get that

objective analysis and Remediation we can find a lot of that. Okay, maybe it was we didn't look far enough, but that's that was what we came up with and then we went into you know, what are the tools that can help us to to get good if that's what we are after the same. With the web things like quality productivity all those things you found the previous fight and we looked at things like we found a DC use how much better than X die in their progress. They're actually quite a few helpful tools right out of right out of adobe. Then we looked at the kinds of tools that we saw

in the web World which you know, we've found access for in common look for similar in that regard and that there was features designed to help us with that. We did not find it quite as many features as we hoped for and we'll get to a slide where I go through actually three slides of the kinds of things. We thought were missing but the the biggest problem that we found was that they were difficult to deal with we we found it. There's quite a bit of confusion between whether a company is in a

software company or Services Company companies like commonlook will be on the lookout not to sell to remediation provider service companies like us because it competes with their service department which translates into a difficulty on the part of the agencies that sent us on this Quest because they told us they'd that puts them in a situation where if they need a lot of work to be done and they can't go to a service bureau because those that Service Bureau won't be using the tool that familiar with then their only option would be to go to that outfit and

up and have them do the remediation that whatever capacity and cost of that was available. So we also looked at places like open access technology. Lots of good features on theirs. They're kind of an upper page remediation service. So they'll do the core capability. Boxer Paige butcher still in that mode where you're sending something to someone getting it back instead of being able to do it right at your desktop with the tools and and deadlines that are facing. We found a lot of

several not a lot but several that were very large PDF document Management Services where accessibility was just a small part of a very large value proposition the large part meant that place is like open text which is a I think they got like 20 thousand employees, you know, they were like 26 or $28 a page and that kind of thing is is really hard to translate into the kinds of work that we do with web pages which are a fraction of that a small fraction. So we are conclusion was that,

you know compared to the web we we did find some reasonably useful features. I'd say, look was probably the most feature-rich Tool that we came across and if they had a way to make it available to the service folks than that might become a standard but at the moment, I don't think that's an option. So we we continued looking for That Sweet Spot between automation analysis. And honestly, we found a gap we found a gap between automation analysis. We found things like with tables. Okay, that's probably where we

should start because it's where I think the the biggest hiccup was you start with things like summaries table summary are required by by adobe's Checker, even though it's not strictly required by wake egg in the standards and and the enforcement folks like Office of civil rights. They tend to go with wake egg and that's not directly required. But if you remediate a document and you don't have tables some reason your client runs the Adobe Checker through it, then you have to explain why you didn't do that. So things like that just need to be

more automated and easier way to get to that complex tables. Of course, we're real bear weight. We would like to see a wizard to enter things like structures and spans where it spans the row or column headers that automatically populate in batch into the cells to off associate with what's a complex table. When when the Blinder the disabled person is in a particular cell. What does that date that sell refer to designating those through manual tags and some of the tools that we saw either underwhelming or non-existent and

something along the lines of imagine what you can do with excel in terms of structuring and designating if you had that available as part of your remediation tools how much time that would save and then when you get existing tables 2 to be able to just show them as a model with with the associated the ID and Edder Association popping right up like they do with the with the web tools when we come to a table within within a webpage the analysis and Remediation of that table is Very straightforward compared to what

we've encountered with PDFs with the tools that are available to do that. Situations where PDF simply doesn't allow for tables that are complex because you've got a header datatables and then you've got this thing that spans across that really has switched the header to the new content. So if you've got January and you got a bunch of stuff for January, then you've got this spanned row that says February. Well you and I know that everything below that is February. Well, you have to convey that in the tagging of the table and in PDF the

simplest way to do that is just a split the table at that point because you really are dealing with two tables or just displaying it for our purposes in a more compact way layout tables in a linearizing them into a paragraph tags. Things like images, okay. We would like to see something like what you get with web pages where you can go through and see the tags for the images. The all tags are all descriptions. And then you can see that in one separate table. You've got in the case of PDFs. You may have a hundred Pages. What if you

had a table that showed all the all the all this all the images all they all prescriptions you could click to the image that you're talking about extractor the ones that you feel need to go to a domain expert for the office scription cuz it's it's either very complex or you don't really know what the images about so managing the images in a summary table would have just saved us tons of time with link text a separate page separate table for those same thing are the is the text used for the Lakes logical. Usually we can figure that out

without a domain expert but if that was all in one place, It would just allow us to go faster the quality to be better. And then we also have a quality assurance step whenever we produce something for that person to look over what was done through these kinds of Summer tables would just save us truck loads of time when you progressed through a PDF like, you know, like Adobe said alternative text. If you could do that with links that would just be just be such a Time Saver content to order vs. Tag order. That's a typo. You know, I

allowed to use your designation despite the Z order problem when things disappear we can fix that with with page fans to be able to just last so and tagged as a single paragraph what we call chunk tagging. I don't think there's a name for it. So we made stuff up that's where you can take what they can items on the list. And then just designate that as a particular type of Chunk and say label these as a list of 10 items where all these all these tags are placed in the correct place cuz you told it what what needs to be tagged

conditional replacement. This one's kind of my favorite because what you can do is if you had a full function if then else replacement for Mark up for search and replace using Boolean logic, you could go and find certain similarities within a document that you've encountered for the first two pages and then just go through the rest and say this is what I want done. In this case for let's say certain types of headers that you can identify as go and identify all the headers using what you've just discovered about how

they do it in the first two pages. Things like spam function designations, you got underlined strike through all those things that that if you can if it conveys meaning it's not just a Aesthetics there certain tags that are required by accessibility to inform the screen reader. Well if I had a way to just designate that by just start here end here and give it that designation that was rude to save a lot of time as well and I cursed at least a dozen undos and reduce and what you're doing is you go about doing things. So those are

the features and then we said to ourselves other than just taking potshots at what the features that are missing would be what might is a whole system look like that we could use and if we go down that road we cooked up the name integrated accessibility manager for lack of a better term, but it would be a separate file in case so you've got an aardvark PDF your hundred pages. And next to it. You've got an aardvark underscore. A11y. PDF for some other way to designate it could be a d o c x or HTML doesn't matter. But in that separate file is where

you're you're keeping your support cables things like those image tables for the whole document the link table for the whole document. All of those support information is kept in the in the underscore ayy. PDF and they travel together. So that also includes staff maintenance instructions as you're analyzing remediating you're going to come up with first of all, if you can you'll find the source document and you'll get that the OC or in designer or even just

words if they go to Ernie, he runs to SQL Server database that produces these things. That's where you go to make your changes to this. Instead of taking a copy of let's say up a court proceeding and then making the changes there and having that over written by the database each time. So there's these things tend to come from families and templates that that should be part of the remediation deliverable. And since you can't really stuff all that into the PDF document that's where this integrated accessibility manager could come in

when we do our work. We like to see alternate editable views of the webpage. That would also be what this could be used for for PDFs things that say just show me the the same PDF but only with this kind of markup or that kind of markup depending on what it is accessibility that we're looking for. We could even have libraries of Aria like custom tags that explode two sets of markup that are put into Into a PDF document without us having to produce all those tags ourselves. It would

have a transaction log that says here's who did what in terms of Maintenance the Version Control that I know that a lot of you guys have in the documents that you use that could be there from the an accessibility standpoint in particular so that you would have inaugurated or remediated by access to online on January 1st with the following nuts. Okay, and then you'd have certain things that you know have been verified as accurate text. Let's say you've taken the time to get a domain expert to give you a long description of a of an org

chart or something complex will then make note somewhere somehow that that should be changed if that is accurate. It's accessible. It's been verified. You don't need to be poking around with that anymore. You can just Avoidant and then you can have certain data sets that you can come up with looking for commonality across a number of PDFs, like one agency would publish a collection of Court proceedings and those tended to look the same and if we had a eye or some kind of machine learning that could start the process

of identifying the commonality in that and then have a human that could look at the rules that we're determined and edit those according to what the human can add to the equation that could help with the remaining hundred copies of the same kind of thing. So this would be the misting system. And what we would like to offer is what we're going to call a collaboration site and it recognizes the elephant in the room in these usually know I do it. It comes one at a time. The elephant in the room is we've talked about what we want what the analysts wants what we wanted. To

do our job and really the question that remains is a what's what would help the disabled person to consume content more effectively, which of these things we mentioned might help with that and I think in up and in summary if we could if we could come up with better tools to help that analysts whether it's a staff person or a professional or in between that would help that disabled person more than anything I can think of and so what we're proposing is a collaborative development support site. We can do it at that to PDF

accessibility software.com would be happy to move that to somewhere else perhaps part of the PDF Association if they're willing this would not be a part of our business as much as an initiative that we'd like to to provide for the community. Members that were not PDF experts we are accessibility experts. We know a fair amount about the web but what I'd like to see collected there is is being you are the requirements for the kinds of tools that anybody needs to have accessibility work correctly and the course of having all these conversations with all these tool vendors.

I believe there's motivation to produce something that is truly useful for the analyst things that answer all those requirements that I mentioned earlier in a bunch that didn't fit into the slide presentation and then to make that available in some reasonably affordable way to all of the folks that are serving the disabled Community the kind of replicate what we know how that exists on the way. We'd like to see something like that close that Gap. Between between Automation and the human analysts. So if we can

we would like to to help arrange that we cannot build the tools so we don't have a competitive. Position in that our situation within the prison preclude test from writing software at least moment. So this this would really be as I say to encourage that cooperation. I think needs to take place and in conclusion, like I said, I don't think we have a sweet spot that we went looking for between Automation in the analysts. We have that Gap instead and we can't fill it we'd like to do

so, so we're going to see if we get the kind of support for that concept to put in the effort to help make it happen and that'll depend somewhat on what you guys have to say. So questions comments ideas condemnations, whatever you like. I tried to finish these with enough time to come up with those. This is not that's how you reach me. so questions comments closure Thank you very much.

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