Make accessibility easy, and the world will be more accessible

August 5, 2022

Dear Microsoft Accessibility Feedback,

I suggest you….Help us make accessible PDFs from Office for Mac.

Sign me

Making Acrobat PDF files accessible may not seem like the most important accessibility problem, but give me a second to make the case.

How many of you routinely use PDF files to share documents? And use Office for Mac to create those documents?

I do.

PDF may not be the ideal format for sharing information: even an accessible PDF may not be completely accessible to everyone.  But there are times when it really is the best option. Big, long reports. Electronic versions of printed material. Draft documents for comments among people who may use different authoring software.

Like it or not, it’s a lingua franca.

If you use Office for Windows, making a simple PDF file accessible is pretty easy. You start with the built-in accessibility checker. Then you use the built-in PDF creator. End with a final check in Acrobat lets you clean up any problems.

But if you use Office for Mac, there is no built-in checker. No built-in PDF creator. The Mac print-to-PDF creates an image with none of the tags that make accessibility possible.

Why? Why? Why?

Microsoft, Adobe, and Apple are giant companies with plenty of resources and great accessibility programs. So why can’t they get this done? I’ve been asking this question for years, and the answers are always vague, or fingers pointed around the circle.

Come on, guys. It’s not that hard a problem. Get. It. Done.

When Microsoft opened a new forum for accessibility feedback, I added this suggestion:

Help us make accessible PDFs from Office for Mac.

As one commenter says: “It’s ridiculous that the accessibility options I recommend to customers aren’t available on my own device.”

Do you agree? Take a minute to vote it up.

Make accessibility easy, and the world will be more accessible.