Document Accessibility Unraveled
Chad Chelius and Dax Castro during an Accessibility Podcast with the Chax Chat Logo between them.

Guest Adam Spencer: Large-scale accessibility, PDF Association, the AxesPDF table editor and overcoming bad design for accessibility

Dax Castro
Welcome to another episode of Chax Chat. Join Chad Chelius and me Dax Castro, where each week we wax poetic about document accessibility topics, tips, and the struggle of remediation and compliance. So sit back, grab your favorite mug of whatever, and let’s get started.

Chad Chelius
Welcome, everyone. Today’s podcast is sponsored by AbleDocs, makers of axesWord, axesPDF, as well as document remediation services. So we want to thank them for being our sponsor on today’s podcast. My name is Chad Chelius. I’m an Adobe Certified Instructor, Accessible Documents Specialist, as well as consultant.

Dax Castro
My name is Dax Castro. I’m an Adobe Certified PDF Accessibility Trainer, as well as certified as an Accessible Document Specialist by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals. Chad, how you doing today, man?

Chad Chelius
Good. Going well. Glad to be here recording another episode of our podcast and getting some more excellent information out there for our listeners.

Dax Castro
Absolutely. I’m excited about this episode, because in this episode, we’re gonna talk about automation at a large scale. And today, we have the CEO of AbleDocs, Adam Spencer. And before we have Adam come on, I want to kind of talk about why… I know a lot of people hear AbleDocs is a sponsor of our podcast, and I kind of… I want to just… I don’t know if clear the air is the right word, but I want to just kind of let people know, Adam has taken a vested interest in our podcast. He supports our podcast. And as an accessibility advocate himself, he really likes what we do. And when we approached him about being a sponsor for a single session, he said, “Hey, I’d love to be the default sponsor. Whenever you guys need, I’ll be the guy to be the default sponsor.” And because he’s really passionate about kind of what we do and our mission for accessibility. So with that being said, I’d like to introduce Adam Spencer, the CEO of AbleDocs, as you heard makers of axesPDF and axesWord. Adam, welcome to the program.

Adam Spencer
Thanks, Dax. Hey, Chad. Great to see you guys.

Dax Castro
Yeah, awesome. Well, you know, I think, Adam, you are a member of the PDF Association. Are you not? Is that correct?

Adam Spencer
For many, many years, yes.

Dax Castro
And part of that is sitting on the PDF/UA board? Is that the correct term?

Adam Spencer
Well, it’s really a subcommittee of the association. So yeah, I sit on both the PDF Association side as well as the ISO committee side. So we kind of have a blurred line between how we are trying to further the standards for PDF accessibility as well as other PDF technologies.

Dax Castro
Well, it’s interesting, because I think a lot of people don’t understand that Adobe does not control, neither the PDF standard nor the ISO at all. And then it is kind of moved out to this other purview.

Adam Spencer
One day people will learn.

Dax Castro
Yes.

Adam Spencer
Now, Adobe did an incredibly – I would say – generous thing by making the file format available to the entire world. It’s an open format. It is managed by an international group of experts and specialists and people who are vested in PDF technology. It’s not theirs. They’re obviously huge contributors to the spec and what we see going forward as PDF, but it really takes on a completely different flavor when you’ve got so many different participants from around the world saying, “What if PDF could do this? And that’s how I got involved in, I think, 11 years ago.”

Chad Chelius
Well, and I think it’s important for us to remember, I mean, Adobe basically invented the PDF format. And I think it was back in the late 80s, early 90s. At least that’s when I got involved with the PDF format. And I think, Adam, it’s important to make everybody aware that as part of the board that you sit on as part of that subcommittee, there are also members of Adobe on that board. So it’s not like they’ve totally said, “Okay guys, here you go. You take it from here.” They’re still actively involved in the process.

Adam Spencer
Heavily. And I think what’s interesting is when you’ve got differing expertise… You know, Adobe is looking at PDF format from one lens, we’re looking at PDF from an accessibility lens, CommonLook is looking at PDF from an accessibility lens, but then you’ve got Xerox and IBM and so many other participants that are saying, “Okay. What else can we do to help us further this?” I mean, Boeing sits on the ISO committee, making sure that they can have 3D rendering in PDF, and then we always joke, how do we make that a accessible. You can barely make a lavatory accessible. So it’s hard to make sure that the 3D rendering of an SVG is fully accessible. But it takes those minds in a room to say, “Okay. Well, what else can we do?” And it’s really exciting. And the participation, not just from different member states, but different organizations and companies saying, “Well, we came up with this. We think this should be part of the spec.” And that’s how we push forward with the next versions.

Chad Chelius
Right. Well, moving on to accessibility, I mean, I know, Adam, you as well as AbleDocs is a huge promoter of the PDF/UA standard.

Adam Spencer
That’s correct.

Chad Chelius
And I mean, that makes sense for you and your organization for a number of different reasons. It makes sense for everybody for a number of different reasons. Did you have any information on when the PDF/UA-2 format or standard is going to be released?

Adam Spencer
I do. We’re anticipating to see that at the beginning of next year. So we’re really excited. It was ratified as basically a final draft. Then it has to go out to external committee and make sure that it gets its final ratification. But we should be seeing that unfortunately, with COVID, it’s made our ISO meetings that much more challenging. I will say as much as we have continued the work, I don’t think it’s as easy to get things approved virtually as it is in person. So hopefully, by the spring meeting, we’ve got full ratification and publication. And ISO is a bit of a process. You’ve got to go through certain steps in order to make sure that it is a spec. We had a couple of delays. There were some challenges, let’s say, that showed up right at the last minute. I think we’ve worked through them. And we should be seeing that shortly.

Chad Chelius
Dax and I can certainly agree that, as trainers doing remote training is much more challenging than being in person. So, I can assume that the whole ratification and getting the standard out the doors is probably been a challenge as well.

Adam Spencer
Time zones are tough. When you’re dealing with everyone around the world, it’s a hard one.

Dax Castro
Now that is definitely true.

Chad Chelius
Adam, I think, this would be really interesting for some of our listeners. And I don’t think I’m saying anything that I’m not supposed to hear, but – I’m not gonna say famous – you are notorious. You are infamous for saying that you want to make document accessibility obsolete.

Adam Spencer
That is correct.

Chad Chelius
And tell me why you feel that way?

Adam Spencer
Well, I think one of the guiding principles, and this is a fundamental thing that I have believed in for many years, what we do as document accessibility experts is really overcome the limitations of existing software. This shouldn’t be a thing. All content should be accessible to all users at all times. And we’re overcoming – forgive me – bad code and bad implementation, that doesn’t render that content fully accessible to everyone. And now that we’re seeing a big push from a legislative standpoint, ensuring that people with print disabilities have equal access, that’s a great way to push us forward in making sure that all content is accessible. You know, there was a time when websites were all table based. And then we remembered: “Oh right. It’s really difficult to understand the semantic meaning of content, if all it is sitting in a table cell.” We’ve pass that. I mean, I got into document accessibility in 2009, and thought that we would be out of business by 2014.

Adam Spencer
I was like, “We’ve got to be able to solve this.” And the challenge becomes so much software is just trying to do the bare minimum. And yes, I can see the content visually, but what can I do with that content? And so… You know, at AbleDocs, we’re big believers in making ourselves obsolete. What can we do to make sure that software is generating more accessible content from the start to ensure that everyone has equal access rather than remediating content or needing third party applications or getting specialists to tag documents? That shouldn’t be a thing. This is a crutch. This is a workaround for bad software. And I’m not calling anyone out. I mean, I could. But we could solve so much inaccessible content issues. And if organizations recognize, it’s not that hard. You just have to ask the right people and follow the right standards and understand how that content is going to be interacted with. Then we should be able to solve this problem in, I think, the next five years. And that’s definitely a plan.

Dax Castro
You know, you brought up something that is kind of one of my passion points. And people say, “Why is accessibility so hard?” It’s always the question I get in the beginning. And I tell people, “Well, it really boils down to using the program, the way the program was intended. And you mentioned, there’s two sides to the coin. There’s one: bad code. Two: bad implementation. And I find that the bad implementation solves about 80% of the accessibility issues that are out there, that if people would just learn how to use the program the right way and not use tables to lay stuff out and not use bold and just bump up the font instead of using the style for the heading, the way that they’re supposed to.

Dax Castro
I just talked with someone last week that had no idea how to use the difference between a character style and a paragraph style. And they couldn’t understand accessibility why their headings weren’t being recognized. They had used character styles for all their headings and didn’t understand the paragraphs. So it’s hard enough to do the job. And when we learn a certain way, when all that mattered was what it looked like when it was printed out, it didn’t matter how you got there. The journey was unimportant. But now that accessibility is… Well, not now, but when you’re considering accessibility, you have to consider the “how”. How did I do this? What was the path that I took to make this text identify as a heading? And I think that’s so important.

Adam Spencer
But I think there’s a general ignorance that exists. And the old adage of 95% of users only use 5% of the capability of Microsoft Word is an example.

Dax Castro
Sure.

Adam Spencer
You will look at the capabilities of software, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, InDesign, the most common implementations of content creation, and we want it to look pretty. We want it to look visually appealing. That’s our number one concern. We’re not taught to think about how that content could be interacted with, how it could be reused, how it could be repurposed. It’s, I’m printing this off or I’m PDFing it, and I’m going to email it to someone, and they’ll think, “I spent a lot of time”, because it looks good. Well, yes, that’s part of it. But we’ve gotten away from even the basics of how do you type correctly.

Adam Spencer
You know, we’ve forgotten that there is a logic behind how we create visually appealing things. And when we forget that, we eliminate the accessibility conversation. Now we have to step in and fix all of those challenges, because they’re not accessible inherently because we used a text box, or we used a table, and we’re trying to figure out workarounds for bad implementation. And the major software vendors, historically, have not been thinking [that] the tides are changing slowly, but they haven’t been thinking about how this could be reused in the future. It’s, “Does this look good?” We’re okay then. And I mean, the amount of time that we spend and the amount of time that you two spend teaching people just the basic fundamentals of how to use an application, this isn’t accessibility training. This is InDesign one-on-one. Here’s how you do this. And then we’ll show you how to make it accessible. It’s because they go hand in glove.

Dax Castro
By far, probably the one of the hardest things that people struggle with the most, I won’t say the hardest. They’re the things that people struggle with the most. And they struggle with it because of two things. One: They’re not the source editor. When you get a table and you’re told to make it accessible, usually it’s because someone else created it. That’s one instance. The other instance is when you’re creating a table, but you’re not thinking about how to logically put this table together. Do these items belong in the same table? A so many times I’ve got the first third of a table is one idea, the middle of it is another idea and there’s a sum column at the bottom because one of the columns needed to sum for a total, but yet they mashed everything into one table that doesn’t have anything to do with each other really. And then it becomes, “Oh my gosh, accessibility is so hard. How do I make this table accessible?” How about we make the table logical, and the ideas are similar, so that every column and every row relates to each other, then accessibility is a no brainer. Then it’s easy to sculpt the columns out, you know, row and column.

Adam Spencer
Well, I’ll take it even back, a step even easier, Dax. When people talk about heading structure, and like, “Well, did I increase that font to 15 or 16 point?” I don’t know, if you use the style, it would be the same thing every single time. And you don’t need to think about it. We have been lazy in the way that we have laid out content. And there are some amazing content layout experts. I mean, there’s no question about that. But until you start thinking about it logically from an accessibility standpoint, that was the first time in my life, that I took a step back and said, “Oh, I guess there needs to be consistency here. Otherwise, there’s no way to consume that content every single time.” I mean, it goes back to the, “Is this a heading two or heading three?” The answer is, “It doesn’t really matter so long as your heading two is always consistent. And your heading three is always relate to your heading three.” It’s that consistency, and your documents end up being so much better and more readable by everyone. It’s not just the accessibility thing.

Chad Chelius
Well, I’ll tell you, as somebody who comes from the design space that what we’re doing with accessibility is something that I’ve been fighting for years, because the problem inherently, in my opinion, is that for so many years, our end goal was ink on paper. So whether it’s design, whether it’s in Microsoft Word, the end goal was, “I’m going to print this out and I’m going to hand it to somebody. I’m going to mail it to somebody. I’m going to get it printed.” It was ink on paper. So at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you got there as long as it looked good. But I can tell you like in the design space, I have been doing content reuse for 20 years now. And that includes exporting the HTML, exporting the XML, exporting the ePUB. And now of course, accessible PDF, they all have a very common denominator. And that’s exactly what you guys have been talking about. But the one thing I’ll tell you that this process forces people to do is to analyze how they’re building their content. And I literally just trained a customer this last week now, and I was showing them like why this table was so complicated. And as we’re looking at it, they were like, “Oh well, we don’t even need that cell.” And I’m like, “Well, yeah.” So why is it there? But up to this point, it’s been like, “Oh well, it’s there, whatever, no big deal.” But now we’re forcing them to analyze it, and look at it, and say, “Do we need that? Do these need to be merged in this way? Do we need to combine three tables into one? And I think that’s a good thing, because it’s going to make their content better.

Dax Castro
I tell the story all the time. When I worked for California high speed rail, we do a report every single year. One year, it’s the update. Then next year, it’s the full report. And these things are monsters. They’re 200 to 400 pages sometimes with appendixes and all this other stuff. And initially we were doing these in InDesign. People were standing over our shoulder giving us edits hours before it was due to be published, because there’s a state mandate. It’s got to be published by the state. Now with accessibility, that can’t happen anymore. I need time to digest this document, so that I can make it accessible. So we used WordsFlow to cut down that process, so that the editors could do the editing, and we could do the design, and I could be implementing accessibility as we went.

Dax Castro
One of the things – I tell the story pretty frequently – is that I was going through the accessibility audit, and I noticed we went from an h2 to an h4. We skipped an h3 in one section. And of course, the accessibility error came up, and said, “Hey, you’re missing a heading level.” I went back to the managers and said, “Hey, we’re missing this heading level.” They’re like, “Oh, we’re missing a whole section here.” And so they went back and they were able to track down the fact that a whole entire section had been omitted, but because the document was so giant, we had so many different people editing the document, it got missed. So it’s one of those things where accessibility makes a big difference. You know Adam, one of the things that… You know, and this is… We bring you on because we value your expertise, and you have a unique position being part of the PDF/UA and having such a vast experience level, but I’m gonna take a moment and be a little commercial. I love the table editor inside axesPDF. One of the things that we struggle with teaching people is the complicated process of cell IDs.

Adam Spencer
Yes.

Dax Castro
And on this program, we mentioned quite a bit that axesPDF and axesWord have different tools, but I will tell you that if I can just suck out the table editor inside axesPDF, and give it to everyone, holy cow, what an amazing change. Now, it would take me 15 minutes, maybe, to explain how to make a table accessible. Almost irregardless, that’s not a word. Almost regardless of what the table structure is. As long as it’s roughly logical and there is headings that can be assigned, it’s point and click man. How did you guys come up with that process for structuring that tool?

Adam Spencer
Well, I can’t take credit for it. I can take input credit for it. So, years ago, there were really four of us, myself, Jens Bjerre Kirkegaard, Marcus Erle and Samuel Hofer. And we were remediators. We were making content accessible. And axesPDF really came as an expression of the things that were driving us nuts. We were trying to tag PDFs in Acrobat. And we were running into these constant challenges. And we needed to be more efficient, as demand increased, as volume increased, as pressure from the client increased. It was, “Okay. I’m running into this time and time and time again, how do I fix this?” And Samuel Hofer is a genius. I mean, he really is. It’s one of the greatest privileges I’ve had in working in this industry. I can present a problem, and he’ll just sit there and kind of say, “Well, we could do it this way.” And well that’s how the table tool came about. It was, “How do we make this logical? How do we make a keyboard capable? And how do we increase our efficiency?” And one of the things that we have as a constant goal is to effectively double our productivity every year. And we don’t release all of the tools to the public. Because some of them are…

Dax Castro
Amazing?

Adam Spencer
Well, they are… And others are not. They do the job, but they are buggy. And we get there. But that’s how we sat back. And it was, it’s really important to show the logical relationship between a heading cell and a data cell and how to show that or how do we interact with those pieces, rather than going into the commonly known interface within Acrobat, which is ultimately code based. Most people don’t recognize that, but that’s what you’re doing. You’re manipulating a code layer. And we tried to put a GUI around it. And that’s what we’ve built. And it works.

Dax Castro
The Acrobat code base works until you… The Acrobat table editor works until you set the span wrong, and then all of a sudden, your table breaks. And then now you’re resorting to going into the cell properties and editing the, I don’t know if it’s XML layer or whatever it is, but the actual code in that node, and that’s a half hour conversation with a new person doing accessibility. And most of the time, their eyes just glaze over and go, “You want me to do what?” And usually we send… At least me, I send them to Kenny Moore’s tagged PDF video, where he shows them exactly how to do it, because I’m just like, “Watch this video”. Because it’s not easy.

Adam Spencer
And that’s the thing. I mean, document accessibility is unique. It can be really hard, because we’re trying to overcome. When we talk about accessibility, we’re really overcoming bad implementation code. So something was built. It wasn’t built in a logical way. It was built in a presentation way. And now we have to break that presentation while keeping the visual representation. And now assigning this structure to it, which should have been there from the start. If we’re all being honest, it should have been there. If you have this cell, then it relates to that, and it shouldn’t be that difficult, but it is.

Chad Chelius
It’s incredibly confusing. I mean, because I run into this all the time. People find the accessibility checker in Word. And that does a fair job of finding obvious things. There’s a lot of similarities between Word accessibility and PDF accessibility, but the one that always cracks me up is you get an error that says, “Oh, you merge cells in this table.” And Word just cannot wrap its head around this from accessibility standpoint. And I can’t tell you that if it still does this, but the fix used to be, at least in Word, unmerge the cells. That’s how you fix the problem. And that gives people the preconceived notion that you cannot have merge cells in a PDF.

Dax Castro
That myth I hear all the time.

Chad Chelius
And that’s not the case. People are like, “Oh, somebody told me I’m not supposed to merge cells in a table.” I’m like, “No, you can totally merge cells in a table. You just have to remediate it appropriately.”

Adam Spencer
So you’ve got to remember that for – I’m going to say – a good seven years, there was a lot of guidance that said, “Never use a table. Simplify your content. Never have any sort of complex layout. You shouldn’t… I mean, even image placement within a document. Make sure that it’s blocked out. So it’s top and bottom rather than mid-paragraph.” And that becomes this absurd implementation because one, how do you have a financial table that doesn’t have merged cells? It’s impossible. You can’t do that. But people were trying to pass a checker. They were building documents to make sure that they got to check marks rather than trying to learn how to make that check mark happen based on the content that was on the page. And it was something that I took very seriously. I will never change an author’s document. It’s my thing. I know, we can all agree or disagree or agree to disagree, but the content needs to be presented in an appropriate way. It’s our job to make sure that that content is now positioned accessibily. And we can overcome all of those shortcomings of…

Adam Spencer
We’ll go back to Word. Word doesn’t know what to do with the table. Word can’t even assign a row header. And then Acrobat now, currently, there’s an “auto feature”, that automatically assigns row headers to a table. Not all tables have row headers. Not all tables have column headers. So you can’t make that assumption that all content fits in this little box. And that’s why you’ve got to make sure that you’re using the right tools and using the right approach and the right knowledge as to how you convey that content.

Chad Chelius
And that brings up a good point, Adam. Like, you had mentioned the typical financial tables that you see in financial reports and stuff. And the thing is, they are often done via tabs, and not built into a table, where, fundamentally, they should be done as a table. But that’s where we get into a situation where they’re easier to format and control as tabbed items than they are in a table. Now, Adam, I know, a good bulk of AbleDocs work is large scale automation. So now we’re talking about automating accessibility in documents. You know, we deal a lot with single documents, but how do you tackle accessibility at a company level for thousands of documents like bank statements and stuff like that?

Adam Spencer
Well, I think one thing that I will preface this statement with is that there isn’t a single solution for an organization to solve document accessibility. There are different paths towards document accessibility. And there are different solutions for those document types. We took a very aggressive direction with high volume transactional documents, because they represent high touch point, vast majority of people are going to receive these whether they’re bank statements, phone bills. You’re seeing these types of documents over and over and over again. And for an organization that mountain of inaccessible content increases every single month, as opposed to a marketing document, a one off designed piece, that’s easy.

Adam Spencer
We can run through that very quickly. But it’s not creating the volume. And when we looked at similarities in content, you and I both deal with different banks. However, it’s always going to show relatively the same type of content: “Who you are? Where you live? What did you spend? What did you receive?” And if we can identify that content, then we can use a recognition engine that churns through that content every single time that page is produced. So I mean, not to get too commercial but AdStream was built around that type of content recognition saying, “We know what this is. We know what it represents. We know where it is on the page. We know that it should be presented to an end user in the following way.” And so that was a big part of the start of AbleDocs. It was, “We need to solve transactional documents.” And now we we have that capability.

Dax Castro
So it sounds like the process then is the only organization creates the document, and then AdStream analyzes the document based on a known kind of positioning. Is that what is that kind of how it is? And that applies based on region? Or does it actually look at the text? Or how does that work?

Adam Spencer
It’s actually based on the relationship of one piece of content to the next. So we don’t care what that content is. We care about how that content is positioned next to another piece of content. So we understand how to identify a specific piece of text based on what either comes before it or what comes after it. So based on the semantic structure of it, rather than this says, “Dax Castro”, we don’t care that it says, “Dax Castro”, we could say, “Chad Chelius”. But we know where it is in relationship to another piece of content. So when a bank statement can repeat for 50 pages in a month, we are looking for those trigger points from one piece of content to the next. And that’s how we’re able to identify that content and assign all of the correct semantics without having to change the clients process today. That’s a big difference. We’re not going in and saying, “Well, now you need this whole new machine.” No! You just need this processor right at the end. And they will accept what you’re sending us, recognize that content, add in the tag layer, and then send the file on its previous path.

Chad Chelius
Now, I’m going to bring us full circle, because the interesting thing about you guys are doing, these companies are using automated systems to generate these PDFs to begin with.

Adam Spencer
Correct.

Chad Chelius
And, I’m always a problem solver. You know what I mean. I’m always trying to solve the problem in the most efficient way possible. The right approach would be to get those systems to tag this stuff during creation.

Dax Castro
Absolutely.

Chad Chelius
But the problem is that these systems are… You know, somebody invested a ton of money in these systems for these big companies never thinking about accessibility, and so now accessibility has to be done. It’s kind of like in photography. You never want to have the second generation of a photograph, because you’re always decreasing the quality. And we’re kind of talking about the same thing here. I mean, the right approach is to deal with it at firsthand when the document is created, but because that’s not being done or can’t be done or whatever, you guys are coming in and saying, “Okay, let’s apply some machine learning to autotag this document. And I mean, it’s a great solution. It’s certainly a great product.

Dax Castro
Chad, you talked about… Look, there was a company that takes the PDF and brings it back into InDesign, but adds the accessibility tags during that process. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Rather than trying to do it after the fact as that documents transitioning from one form to another, those tags are getting assigned.

Chad Chelius
Yeah, it was a coolest thing. And that’s my buddy, Paul Chadha, who works for Recosoft. He specializes in converting from one format to another. And one of the products they make is PDF2ID. It converts a PDF to an InDesign document. And he approached me because he knew of my involvement with accessibility. And he’s like, “Listen Chad, since I’m doing this conversion, can you help me understand what you need to do in InDesign to make the PDF accessible, because we’d like to reverse engineer that, so that if somebody does convert a PDF back to InDesign, we’re already mapping the styles to the appropriate tags?” And I was like, “Are you kidding me?” You know, it was a phenomenal thing. And so now, he released that product earlier this year. And I was testing it out. And it’s really, really cool. It’s amazing.

Adam Spencer
That’s awesome.

Dax Castro
All right. Well, it worked. Well, you’ve reached that time in the program, where we talk about, “Who is on Twitter”.

Chad Chelius
Who’s on Twitter this week, Dax?

Dax Castro
Our, “Who’s on Twitter” is Anna E. Cook, and her Twitter handle is @annaecook. That’s Anna E. Cook. And she is a design accessibility and cat person. Not to mention, she is a senior accessibility designer @NM_Financial. And I was scrolling through my twitter just the other day, and I came across some of her posts. And I just really like what she has to say. She’s got this series of tweets that are tips on advocating for accessibility in junior roles. And she says, “Try to make your work more inclusive, even if no one’s asking you to. If you wait for permission to make your work more inclusive, you may never get it. If you have the bandwidth, make it part of your work.” I love that approach.

Chad Chelius
Absolutely. And another one of her posts says, “Know that you cannot change an entire organization’s culture on your own or immediately. If your org (organization) isn’t currently prioritizing accessibility, you should not feel guilty for anything you can’t achieve in your work alone.” And that really hits home for me, because I can’t tell you how many people have come to me for training. And after we talk about what options are available, they say, “Well, I’m paying for this out of my own pocket.”

Dax Castro
Right. I had that happend too.

Chad Chelius
Yeah, I’m like, “Why? Why would you do that?” You know, I mean, your company is in charge and making these documents accessible. They should be educating you on how to do this. And so on several cases, I have done training for clients at either a reduced rate or absolutely for free, because I thought it was ridiculous. You know, it’s like, “Hey let me help you out a little bit. Let me help you. Let me teach you to fish, so to speak. And hopefully, it’ll apply to the common good.” You know what I mean, the greater good.

Dax Castro
I think that’s why we… You know, part of it is why we do training, Chad. You and I… You know, my next event is – gosh – I don’t know if it’s Accessing Higher Ground. It is going to be, hopefully, November 15th through the 17th. And I’m actually hoping to be in person. They’re running a 6-hour lab on more accessible infographics and graphic design. So you’re going to have some hands on working on some stuff to make the more accessible. But you know, I love teaching, because I want to empower people to do this stuff. I want to… You know, it is… You know, I say this with all seriousness. I have some diabetes issues and some other issues that I know, eventually I might lose my sight. I might be the person receiving these services. And if I can teach more people to do this, maybe I’ll get more out of it when I need those services. It is really important for me. And I hope that my passion comes through with honesty, guys, because it really is what I live and breathe, and I love it every day.

Dax Castro
Adam, thank you so much for being a sponsor. We’re gonna give you the spotlight here to kind of talk about what you think is most important that people need to know about AbleDocs, maybe from a training perspective and from a product perspective. So take it away.

Adam Spencer
Well, thanks Dax. I think my overarching statement is: “We have a solution for every type of document flow.” And that comes from an awareness building, an experience building through the training side, a product standpoint for generating more accessible content, or fixing that inaccessible content, or relying on our services. Because we’ve got the largest remediation team in the world. We want to make document accessibility easy. And that’s kind of our stepping stone to making document accessibility ubiquitous.

Adam Spencer
So it really is, “Don’t be afraid, don’t be ashamed of the fact that you don’t have the answer.” It’s okay. There was a time where I thought document accessibility meant braille. And it took my mum saying, “No, you idiot. It’s digital accessibility and text.” It’s like, “Oh okay, this makes more sense now.” But we’re all on this journey. And the more that we can do to educate users for how they’re creating content, how they’re distributing that content, it’s critically important and burying your head in the sand is not the answer. You’ve got to have a strategic approach to document accessibility. And when you do, it’s not that expensive. It’s really sustainable. And now we’re generating fully accessible content.

Adam Spencer
Because you know Dax, your comment about your diabetes challenges, anyone can get hit by a bus tomorrow and lose their sight in an instant. Do we want to live in a world, where we have full access to everything or not? And to me, that’s not an option. We’ve got to make sure that we have barrier free access to everything. And that’s why we continue to look for different ways of making that content accessible at AbleDocs. And we’re really here as a partner to our clients, making sure that they’re supported in their journey, whether it’s one file or 50 million files a month.

Chad Chelius
Yeah. And I’ve said this on our podcast several times that accessibility benefits everybody. You know what I mean. And I think that’s what everybody needs to kind of wrap their head around. At some point in your life, accessibility is going to benefit you. And a lot of people day in and day out benefit from accessibility at various levels. So really, really great way to sum this up, Adam. Alright, everyone. So once again, I want to thank Adam and AbleDocs for being our sponsor on today’s podcast. Once again, AbleDocs is makers of axesWord, axesPDF,, as well as document remediation services. So again, we want to thank them for their support on our podcast today. My name is Chad Chelius.

Dax Castro
And my name is Dax Castro. And each week, Chad and I bring you Chax Chat where we unravel accessibility for you.

Chad Chelius
Thanks, guys.

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