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

Guest Guy van der Kolk: Document accessibility automation and the journey of mastering 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 once again on today’s podcast. My name is Chad Chelius. I’m an Adobe Certified Instructor, an Accessible Document Specialist, as well as consultant.

Dax Castro
And my name is Dax Castro. I am an Adobe Certified PDF Accessibility Trainer as well as an Accessible Document Specialist by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals. Chad, how you doing man? You doing okay?

Chad Chelius
I’m doing okay. I was here on the east coast. We are surviving the flood. Hurricane Ida came up and in Philly we’re a bit inland, but believe it or not, there was major flooding in my area. Like intersection close down and so it really created some challenges in the area, but today the sun is out and hopefully, it’s going to dry everything up and we’ll be back to normal.

Dax Castro
That’s awesome. There were some blue skies. They evacuated part of South Lake Tahoe for the fires, and they’ve got video of bears running from the smoke and stuff. But it’s coming along. Well, we can talk about weather all day long, but I want to introduce today’s guest is Guy van der Kolk, and he is the product manager at Typefi. And to give you a little background, Guy first got hooked on publishing while attending an international school in the Ivory Coast where he used PageMaker – Boy, that’s a flashback – Photoshop and Apple QuickTake 100 camera to create the yearbook. After many hours of hard work while holding the final printed product, he knew this was an industry that he wanted to be part of. So fast forward to 2020, Guy moved into the role of Typefi Product Manager, working with product and engineering teams to continue to improve the world leading publishing software and bringing new exciting features. He continues to apply his deep knowledge in professional service capacity working with new and existing clients. Guy, welcome to the program, man.

Guy van der Kolk
Thank you very much for having me. It’s very exciting to be here. I’m looking forward to chatting about all the stuff about accessibility and everything else including the weather.

Dax Castro
We record this on usually Thursdays or Fridays. And it is 7:30am for me. What time is it where you are Guy? (pronounced Gi not Jee)

Guy van der Kolk
It’s 4:30pm where I’m at.

Dax Castro
And where is that exactly?

Guy van der Kolk
I’m living in The Hague in Holland, which is about 20 minutes south of Amsterdam, which is probably more known to a lot of people. I live 10 minutes’ walk from the beach, where I like to go with the Golden Retriever. Well, he’s not puppy anymore, but we just went there this morning. So before work, we go to the beach, walk the dog.

Dax Castro
It must be nice, man. It must be nice.

Guy van der Kolk
I’m blessed. I am blessed.

Chad Chelius
It doesn’t get much better than that.

Dax Castro
Chad does his morning bike ride. You’re out walking the beach. I’m out feeding the chickens and playing with the Alpaca, man. It is all about life balance. In the stressful world of accessibility, you definitely have to have some balance, otherwise things go kind of nuts.

Guy van der Kolk
It’s right. I was meditating in the garden yesterday morning, and then the dog comes and lays down next to me. And then it’s just that moment where you’re just like, “He’s at peace and you’re there enjoying the fact that you have a garden and you can sit in it and think about things and start your day off with some good mental headspace.” It’s absolutely a great place to start.

Chad Chelius
The dogs have a way of they do.

Guy van der Kolk
They do. It’s yeah.

Dax Castro
Alpacas are the exact same way. You go out there… But alpacas are more like cats. They want you to pet them, but only on their terms. You have to like sit down and be like, “I’m not interested in you.” And then they’ll come over and kind of rub against you and be like, “Hey, pet me.” And then you go to pet them and they’re like, “No, I’m okay. I just wanted to make you want to.”

Chad Chelius
So when you say they’re like cats, they’re like knock over glasses in your house.

Dax Castro
Oh yeah.

Chad Chelius
And just like ignore you all day.

Dax Castro
And if leave the gate open, they look at you, and then look at each other and go, “Hey”. I swear they say this: “He left the gate open. Let’s go.” And they make a beeline for the gate, knowing you’re going to chase them. And I’ve chased, they gone in the house walking over. You know, I’ll leave the sliding door open and they’ll walk in the house and be like, “What’s up?” And you’re like, “You’re not supposed to be in here.” And they just like, “Yeah, whatever.”

Chad Chelius
So for all of our listeners, keep an eye on our podcast page. We’re gonna post a video of Dax chasing alpacas through his house. I definitely want that.

Dax Castro
You know, our @ETRfarm is on Instagram and on TikTok. So ETR farm little shameless plug there. So Guy, let’s talk about some accessibility, man.

Guy van der Kolk
Let’s do that.

Dax Castro
Talk a little bit about Typefi and how accessibility fits into your current workflow.

TypeFi

Guy van der Kolk
So I started with Typefi eight years ago, and literally, my first job was to implement a fully automated solution in six languages with accessibility in mind. And my previous job before that was computer engineer for a couple of years, where I repaired some computers. And I’d been out of publishing a little bit, but giving training and being part of a training community here. And then gone into Typefi with Gabriel Powell. I don’t know if… I know you know him Chad, because he used to speak a lot. I don’t know if you’ve ever met Gabriel. I don’t know if you have.

Chad Chelius
I have not.

Guy van der Kolk
But Gabriel used to work at Typefi, and we used to run the InDesign User Group here in Holland together when there was an InDesign user group, and all of that has, unfortunately, seemingly moved online. I missed those day like crazy. But that’s a different story. That how I knew Gabriel. And he robed me into working for this company that does automation on a global scale. And I was like, “Okay. Let’s go.” And my first project was, “Let’s do six languages and accessibility.”

Dax Castro
So just a weekend project, right?

Guy van der Kolk
Yes, we get project, just you know, let’s go, fly out there and show us how to do it. And so that was my first dipping the toe into this world of accessibility and trying to figure out, “What is it all about? What are we doing it for?” Because that’s one of the things that we notice when you come into these organizations. And just to clarify a little bit, Typefi is an automation solution for medium to large organizations that have a significant amount of publications and often multiple languages come into play. And eight years ago, accessibility was in the… The UN mandate had fairly recently been mandated around the fact that people should have access to information. And so we were getting requests from our customers saying, “Yeah, this accessibility stuff. Let’s go for it.” And one of the things where Typefi shines is – because it’s an automation solution – we try with the focus on to go for single source publishing. So that means, whether it be Word or XML – a significant amount of our customers use XML but an equal large amount use Word as an input – because let’s be fair, no matter you know the Google Docs – I mean, you guys probably agree with me from your field that Google Docs is used [and] there’s some other – but I would say 90% of the world’s content still starts in Microsoft Word. Would you agree?

InDesign and MS Word

Dax Castro
Yeah, I agree. And it’s interesting. In the engineering world, which is the world I come from – large engineering firms – there is always a split, usually it’s about 25% of the company use InDesign and the rest of the company uses Word. And of course, all of the people who use Word, wish everybody is InDesign, and everybody uses InDesign, wish everybody is Word. And so we used WordsFlow as a way to bridge the gap. And it’s not a perfect WordsFlow, but it definitely cuts down on the back and forth, for sure.

Guy van der Kolk
And it absolutely does. And for the listeners who have never heard of WordsFlow, it’s absolutely something that if it’s not in your life and you deal with a lot of Word documents, it’s absolutely something that you want to go ahead and check out because it can make a significant difference in the way that you work.

Dax Castro
So yeah, there was a post on the InDesign secrets. It’s InDesign Secrets Facebook Group, right Chad? That’s the big one. Isn’t that the one?

Guy van der Kolk
Yeah.

Dax Castro
And there was somebody that posted just yesterday about that. “Hey, I’m trying to copy my content from Word into InDesign, but none of the styles of the formatting stay. And I’m just like, “Yeah, you and everybody else is right. Welcome to the world…”

Guy van der Kolk
Why don’t you copy? Let’s start there, but that’s the difference story.

Dax Castro
Exactly. The import, the mapping styles come… There is all of the things.

Guy van der Kolk
That’s too much work.

Mapping Styles

Dax Castro
But then you start getting into accessibility. So if you think about it, that bridge from Word to InDesign is really about mapping styles. And so that is the very first foundation of accessibility. It is making sure that your styles are there, so that you can have that info and relationships that 1.3.1, that tells you, “Hey, this is a heading, and what level it is.”

Chad Chelius
Well, it’s very similar to accessibility. I mean, it’s all possible. I mean, it is totally possible to flow in a document from Word, and have it automatically formatted in a design, but it requires knowledge and skill and a little bit of work to make it happen. And accessibility is very similar. I mean, we talked about accessibility being hard, but fundamentally, the more you know, the easier is that. And that’s really the key to a lot of what we do. So I think it really kind of translates in just that the more knowledge you have, the more you know about the process, the easier the process becomes.

The Accessibility Journey

Chad Chelius
And I always feel so bad for the people when they first start out. You know, our Facebook group, we’re about 1550 members now [in] PDF accessibility Facebook group. You know, we get the people who first join and they always starts out with, “I’m brand new to accessibility, where do I go to learn all this stuff?” And right now, there’s not a single place to get all that information. And to be honest, it’s so overwhelming that if you tried, you’re just not going to absorb it. You just got to dive in, get your feet wet, get started, start doing what you can, and be moving. You learn as you go.

Guy van der Kolk
Like I did it years ago: Dive in and start figuring it out.

Chad Chelius
Yeah. And I mean, the best recommendation I can say to those people, because… You’re right, Dax. It is really hard, because there is a lot of misinformation.

Dax Castro
Oh my gosh, yes.

Chad Chelius
I did training for a client last week, and they gave me one of their InDesign files, and I opened it up, and I’m like, “This document is all tagged with XML. Are you guys doing an automation workflow or something?” And they’re like, “No, we’re making it accessible.” And I’m just like, kind of palm to the head. I’m like, “Where did you hear that?” And they’re like, “Well, we found an article online that told us this is how we had to do it.”

Dax Castro
From, maybe, 2015.

Chad Chelius
Yeah, that article is probably 15 years old, at least. So that’s the challenge. So if there’s any recommendation that we can make, and of course, I am very biased on this topic, but get some training, get a little bit of training. Give us a call and just get some legitimate training. The cost of the training will pay for itself like 10-fold.

Accessibility Training

Dax Castro
Guy, are you planning on speaking at InDesign and Accessibility Summit this year?

Guy van der Kolk
I only just saw in the InDesign Magazine this morning that there actually is one.

Dax Castro
You should reach out to David. Matter of fact, we’re going to be a still little secret sauce here. David is probably going to be a podcast guest and we actually might even be a guest on his podcast. But you should reach out to David and give him some topics because I think accessibility and automation is a really important topic. And I think you’ve got some good information to offer.

Guy van der Kolk
For sure.

Chad Chelius
And speaking of InDesign magazine is another shameless plug here. The current issue of InDesign magazine is all about accessibility. And I wrote an article for InDesign magazine in this issue on accessibility tools and services. So if you’re a member of InDesign magazine, please definitely check that out. If you’re not a member, maybe join and read the article.

Dax Castro
Yeah. In this article, there’s actually a coupon code to download a free plugin. Well, it’s free to you, because you get the code to download a plugin for InDesign that does color contrast analysis. Normally, we have to cut… You know, all of the solutions pretty much that are on the market right now for color contrast analyzation copy your hex codes or your RGB values out into whatever program or use the eyedropper to eye drop samples certain colors and get just the one or two color contrast evaluation. But there’s a script in InDesign magazine that actually will take your InDesign color palette and build a matrix for you and show you which colors are compliant, which combinations are compliant. And there’s a coupon to download it for free. So yeah.

Chad Chelius
Is that your script, Dax?

Dax Castro
It might be.

Chad Chelius
Another shameless plug.

Dax Castro
We should have a section under the podcast now called “Shameless Plugs.” Now, I will say that, although it was my idea, [but] Luis Corullon – I always say his name wrong – is the one who wrote it. And he and I worked together, because I was like, “Look, I am so tired of copying and pasting out of InDesign. Is there a way we could build this as a script?” And he’s like, “Yeah, sure.” And so we worked for about a month to put together the right combinations, and then improved it, so that you could actually just do two colors in 10% tint, so that you can analyze, just… You know, if your color base is just a blue and a yellow, or a blue and a green, or whatever, you can analyze those two together in 10% increments. So it’s pretty cool. The scripts are constantly evolving. I’m a great idea guy. He’s a great coder. We make a great team. So it always works out that way.

Guy van der Kolk
And I think what you mentioned is a very important point, because I work for a big publishing automation company, but not everybody has the resources to work with a company like Typefi to improve their workflows, but there are so many things, and I see it every single day. And I know that you guys are… Well, maybe the past year, obviously, we haven’t seen a lot of on-site travel or on-site visits, but as a trainer for the past 20 years, I have seen so many situations where you’re seeing what people do, and that was before I started Typefi, where you see people manually doing stuff. When you’re just like, there was a situation where I saw somebody [and] they were manually aligning to the baseline equations. So they had equations that were part of the text, and somebody would come in, and they would select the image and move it down a couple of notches, so it aligned to the baseline. And these were EPS equations. So with the EPS equations, that come from mathtype, which is a tool that allows you to export, you can script that because there’s baseline information.

Dax Castro
Oh, the baseline information is metadata inside the EPS.

Guy van der Kolk
Yeah.

Dax Castro
I didn’t even think about that.

Chad Chelius
It’s in the EPS or it’s in the line graph.

Guy van der Kolk
No, it’s in the EPS.

Chad Chelius
Really?

Guy van der Kolk
Well, because…

Chad Chelius
That’s amazing.

Dax Castro
Go ahead. You know this. Guy, it’s all your man. This is your wheelhouse, not mine.

Guy van der Kolk
I mean, it all for… So that part is… And bringing it back to… Okay. This is the thing that the person is doing. And it’s one of those situations. Like, if you’re looking at automation in general, it’s very often the struggle between “I know how to do this.” It takes me so much time to move that equation a couple of taps and do that 100 times, but I know how to do it. Scripting it is a completely different story. Like getting somebody to look at that and kind of be automated, like you were saying, you’re the ideas guy. Well, you’ve got to have that idea. Somebody’s got to have that idea and say, “Well, can we spend our time better than by manually moving the equation?” Or bringing it back to accessibility which is more relevant, is the idea of let’s talk about alternate text. Alternate text is a big, if not one of the big milestones of accessibility, mainly because when these kinds of accessible projects start, they have no idea that they’ve got to start having accessible content [and] they’ve got to have alternate texts for their images, so that’s usually they come in, they hire Typefi and then they say, “All right, you’re going to take care of our accessibility.” And we’re like, “Sure. Who is gonna write the alt-text?”

Dax Castro
That’s vitality, right?

TypeFi Solution for Alt-text

Guy van der Kolk
That ain’t writing itself, you know. So it’s a collaboration. And here within the Typefi workflow, we’ve got a solution for the alt-text. But if you’re not working with Typefi, there are ways in which you can… In our case, we had a Word file, where someone from the editorial team would write down the images that are in the document with a tab, and then the alternate text. And that was imported into InDesign, and then an InDesign scripter – like Luis, there are multiple scripters out there – wrote a script that would automatically find the name of the image that was in the links panel, open up the corresponding, you can insert your alternate text by right clicking and going through your object export options, and then filling it into the alt-text area. The script will do that automatically, which saved that person hours of work. And it’s the most repetitive and you don’t want to spend your time doing that. Well, I mean, I don’t want to spend my time doing that. It’s like, the time that you save by doing that, but it does bring up this idea of “Okay, so now what do I do? I don’t want to spend that time. What is my next step? Where do I find this?” Well, I would say from what I’m seeing, InDesign secrets is an excellent place to start. So, go to Facebook, go to InDesign secrets, because there are scripters there and say, “I have this idea of how to save time.” And because that’s where I think a lot of it goes, and I’m guilty of that as well. I would start back in the day in AppleScript, like, “I can do this myself.” I’m a smart guy. I can’t write a script. And then you spend 10~20 hours and your script isn’t working, and you’re frustrated, and you’re searching 15 different websites with obscure code, and you still can’t get it to work. And then you give up and you go back…

Chad Chelius
Guy, you and I have a very similar history, because I did the same thing. At one point in time, I’m like, “Oh, I want to become a scripter.” And after like 40 hours of trying to write the most accurate scripts in the world, I still don’t have it working. And I will tell you, like the best friends in the world are scripters. I think all of us in this room can agree on that. And as a matter of fact, I reached out to a buddy of mine, Guy, I think you know him, Keith Gilbert, who is an incredibly talented scripter. And I have an idea for an accessibility script. And Keith is like, “Oh yeah. I could bang that out in 30 minutes.” So I’m like, “Okay. Cool. That’s what I wanted to hear.” Actually, I’m exaggerating. I don’t know if it’s 30 minutes, but he said he could do it fairly easily. And to your point, Guy, I’ve said this before on this podcast, as a designer I am the absolute worst person in the world to write alternate text for images. Like, I’m the worst choice. Like, you don’t want me writing your alternate text. But I often have to do it as part of the process because a client won’t give me the alternate text and it needs it. So yeah, for sure. But if you’re an InDesign user, or not even specifically an InDesign user, if you’re a Word user or a PowerPoint user, all of those applications can be scripted. And if you find yourself doing mundane tasks, it is worth reaching out to somebody who can script in Word, I think it would be VBscript.

Guy van der Kolk
And that depends on the version of Word, whether it’s 32-bit or 64-bit, but that doesn’t matter too much. Macro…

Chad Chelius
It’s not really important, but you can reach out to some people. I mean, if it’s InDesign, go to the Adobe forums or go to the InDesign secrets Facebook page, and there’s plenty of people who can help you.

Guy van der Kolk
Now as you say that Chad, because that’s one of the things, like you have the idea. And obviously, you might not want to go into detail about your specific idea just yet. But, when you’re thinking about, “Okay. I have this repetitive task that I’m working on. What do you do to…? You’ve got your scripting buddy, who’s your best friend. That’s clear. Where do you start in the process of explaining to him what you want?”

Chad Chelius
Sure. I mean, I kind of have the benefit of [having] the application knowledge as a foundation, so I can kind of describe what I want it to do. Now, that being said, there’s a lot of times where I describe what I’m trying to do. And the scripter will say, “Well, I wouldn’t do it that way, but I have a better way of achieving it.” And that’s where the collaboration is really important. I mean, I can get my idea out, and regardless of your level of knowledge on the application, if you can explain to somebody what problem you’re trying to solve, they can then in turn use their knowledge of scripting to say, “Hey, I think I can fix this for you.” And again, sometimes you’ll get a quote, and maybe the script will be $500. And some people are like, “Oh that’s a lot of money.” Man, if you count the time that you are going to save with that script, it’s really easy to justify the ROI on paying for something like that.

Dax Castro
Absolutely! You know, definitely, there’s been lots of times where I feel like, “It’s 2 O’clock in the morning. I am so tired of copying and pasting, or I’m so tired of inserting spaces, or inserting actual text, because something didn’t come in or get exported.” And you know, being able to automate that stuff. Typically, what I do is, I screen record. I’ll just run a screen recording while I’m doing whatever I’m doing. And then I give that to the developer and say, “Hey Luis, look what I’m doing. Can you automate this?” And he’ll ask me a few questions with back and forth, and boom! We’re working on one right now. That he banged it out in two days. It’s the… When we deal with acronyms and abbreviations inside our InDesign documents,

Guy van der Kolk
which by the way, Chad just use ROI. So in the interest of accessibility, return on investment. You know, just declaring.

Accessible Acronyms

Dax Castro
But the idea was that when you have long acronyms, sometimes the screen reader will try to make it a word. POTR or POTA, it’ll say “potr” instead of P-O-T-A. And you’re like, “Well, how do I fix that?” Well, it’s a screen readers interpretation of your text. So now you have to force it with actual text by inserting spaces. You’re like, “Well, I don’t want my acronyms to be spaced out in my document.” So we got this idea of inserting a hair space in between each of the letters. And I’m like, “Hey Luis, can you script something to make this search for all acronyms and then insert that space?” And he’s like, “Yeah, we can do that. Not a problem.” And literally, in about 30 minutes, he had the script ready to go. And I said, “Okay. Can we build a table that has one column for abbreviations that it finds, and then builds the table to have the definitions column blank, so someone can fill it in?” He is like, “Yeah, we can do that.” So now not only can you suck out all the abbreviations, you can fix all the abbreviations in your document, so that the screen reader will read them as individual letters. You can suck out the table of all your acronyms in the document, and then put your own description. And there’s more that I won’t go into detail, but it has to do with having a database and being able to manage all of that. And we’re still working out some of the bugs, but it’s gonna be awesome. You know, it’s one of those things, if I could give advice to anybody out there who’s doing repetitive tasks, it’s think about, “Is this worth automating for me? If there were no limits and no rules, would automating this tool be helpful for me?” And start there. Because if you just think, “Oh, I’ve…” You know, you just complain or you think, “Oh, this is impossible. There’s no way to automate this. It’s not part of the program.” We don’t have to wait for Adobe. No offense to Adobe. We don’t have to wait for Adobe to figure it out and added to their code base. There are companies like Typefi and other companies out there, my accessibility scripts, there are all lots of places to go. Luis has a whole repertoire of not accessibility based but just repetitive task base or really awesome.

Guy van der Kolk
Peter Carl

Dax Castro
Yeah. You know, there’s lots of people out there who are…

Chad Chelius
Yeah, Peter. We all know.

Dax Castro
Peter has got great stuff. I mean, just “Don’t be afraid”, I guess, is probably my bottom line there. Don’t be afraid.

Chad Chelius
The funny thing about that story that Dax just told [is] he had showed me that example of fixing the acronym. And no sooner had he showed me that I had written a grep expression to do it automatically. I’m like, “Dude, I could totally do that with grep.” And I did it and it’s like, “Boom, boom, boom.” And then Dax took it to the next level and had his scripter automate it. And so you can accomplish [and] you can overcome limitations a number of different ways is – I guess – what I’m trying to say.

Guy van der Kolk
Yeah. And I think that’s true for pretty much everything having to do with automation, but one of the counter signs that I want to mention because that thought popped into my head as Dax was talking is, at Typefi too, we trying to go for 100% automation. So that means that a customer can go from A to Z in multiple formats with one single go. But sometimes that’s just not possible. Sometimes there are limitations. Sometimes there are things as you were mentioning. Sometimes there’s a hurdle that can’t be overcome yet. With organizational changes or with decision making changes, it might be possible in the future, but it might not be fully possible now. And when you are thinking about automation, in your head, you might have the idea, “Oh, it would be perfect if this tool or this script could do A, B, C, D, and E.” But if it can only do A, B and C, and maybe don’t do D and E, after you’ve talked internally about finding somebody who’s an expert in writing alternate text or whatever, then you’re still making big saving a lot of time on A, B and C.

Accessible ePUBs

Dax Castro
If you can get partial success, go for it. Now ePUB is one of those things. Do you find the ePUB for accessibility…? Admittedly, this is an area I’m hands off. There are other people out there smarter than me who deal with ePUB, but can you think of some of the limitations for accessibility when it comes to getting an ePUB document out of, let’s say, InDesign for accessibility? Are there common hurdles?

Guy van der Kolk
It’s very interesting that you bring that up, because technically… I’m going to be quite honest. And Chad can attest to this, because he’s written articles on it as well. And you know, obviously, Anne Marie is like… You know, I still point people to Anne Marie’s course on getting ePUB out of InDesign, if that question comes up, because it’s where I learned it from. But you can actually set up… A lot of the things is the same. So for example, if we’re looking at heading structure, if you go into your paragraph style settings, and you set your export tags – Thank you – in that setting, you have the choice of doing it both for the PDF and ePUB. So there’s a lot of overlap. If you have your document and you’ve got your alt-text, well, you can export it to a PDF with the right options, and you can export it to ePUB, and you get your content. Where it starts getting a little bit more gnarly with ePUB is when you are talking about your document flow.

Dax Castro
And that the thing I see the most, because people have the hardest time. They’re like, “I want it to look a certain way.” And you’re like, “Yeah, that’s a little harder.”

Guy van der Kolk
Yeah. But more specifically, when you are… Everything has to be anchored. So if you want your… Because there’s two aspects of what you’re saying Dax. One is design, which I’ll get back to in a short moment. Remind me, because I have a story about that. But from a practical perspective, a lot of people who are working in InDesign, you draw your boxes on the page, and you don’t necessarily anchor them, because PDF is a visual thing. So when you take that document and you export it to ePUB, you get what Emery showed in her video, you have the text exports quite well. The CSS that InDesign outputs as… Well, they haven’t done a lot of improvements in the last two versions. But now the CSS is pretty darn good that comes out of InDesign. I know that there’s some people that would take me out back and hit me over the head for saying that, but if you’re not… Like, it’s not bad. It’s absolutely not great, but it’s not bad. But then all of your images all of a sudden are at the back of your ePUB, and you’re like, “What is this?” And then you’ve got to go back through your document and put everything in line, which there are scripts for.

Dax Castro
Awesome.

Guy van der Kolk
But then you’ve also got to make the decision of where it anchor. So that’s usually where it gets gnarly, because you’ve got to make sure everything is in line. But at the foundation InDesign, the same stuff you set up for a PDF also sets you up for going to ePUB. One of the downsides is that ePUB tend to be… Like InDesign is very very verbose. Like they spray around classes. Like it’s nobody’s business. Like, they’ve got a class for every single thing. And so…

Chad Chelius
Like, they’re getting paid to do it. Like they’re getting paid per class.

Guy van der Kolk
And it’s one of those interesting things where… You know, in the export to HTML, they added an option quite recently, I think two versions ago, where you can export a class list, where you just get flat HTML without all the CSS. And that option, at least, if I remember correctly, haven’t looked in detail, but I don’t think that option exists yet for the ePUB export out of InDesign. But at Typefi, because we are able to have that single source, we can have multiple templates. So the same content can go through two different InDesign templates. One specifically designed for PDF and one specifically for ePUB, which takes that like manually going through and modifying an InDesign file to export it to ePUB, takes that out of the equation. But in all fairness, we’re starting to… One of my jobs is to make an ePUB directly out of XML, rather than going to you’re going through InDesign, because there’s just a lot of overhead. But that’s when you’re using Typefi. For everybody else, you’ve got to make sure your stuff is in line, and everything else like your heading structure and your alt-text and all those things, grouping your tables, I mean, that doesn’t really happen for ePUB. So that’s the technical side of thing.

Who’s on Twitter?

Dax Castro
Without further ado though, Chad, it is time for “Who’s on Twitter?” So Guy, I know that you listen to the podcast religiously. We’ve talked about it a little bit before. So I don’t have to explain to you about our “Who’s on Twitter?” But this week, “Who’s on Twitter?” is WeThe15. And that’s @WeThe15.

Chad Chelius
And WeThe15 is really a fantastic organization. WeThe15 is sports biggest ever human rights movement to end discrimination. They aim to transform the lives of the world’s 1.2 billion people with disabilities who represent 15% of the global population. So that’s where the WeThe15 comes from. And basically their objective is to break down barriers. They’re very active in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. And it’s a fantastic organization.

Dax Castro
Well, it’s interesting, because I found them on Twitter, because someone had posted something about the statistic of 15%. And that’s not typically the percentage. Like the CDC says that it’s more like 23% to 25%, but of course, this is the Paralympics. This organization is kind of framed around the physical disability, and so that statistic is more in line with them. What was interesting is the post that came up not only were they talking about the statistic, but then there was some ads that they have that didn’t have good color contrast. And they were using an overlay on their website. And they had quite a bit of pressure from the accessibility community right away, saying, “Hey, overlays are a no-no. Don’t put overlays on your website, at least the ones that are designed to try to overcome accessibility.” There are some overlays that simply increased contrast or increased font size, but that don’t have the kind of screen reader user accessibility components to them. And they’re not bad, but the ones that say, “Hey, this is a magic button that’s going to make your website instantly accessible.” Yeah, you just can’t. That’s not a thing. And anybody who tries to tell you that they’re trying to sell you a bag of goods there. But anyway, the good thing was as I reached out to them, and kind of re-did one of their ads and said, “Hey, if you just made these couple small changes, here’s what it would look like.” So I’m hoping that maybe we can get them on as a podcast guest here, but right now, I know the Paralympics are going on, and so they’re probably pretty busy with their campaigns there.

Dax Castro
But again, they are @WeThe15. And I would challenge you to go take a look and see what they’re doing. It’s really great to see people with disabilities excelling far beyond my skill levels at so many different things. They have a dodgeball game. It’s not even really dodgeball. It’s some kind of rolling the ball into these nets, and the people that are playing are blind. And I have no idea how they understand where the ball is, or where it’s coming from, or where the goal is. But it’s so amazing to watch. I really think we underestimate the power of the human psyche that we can overcome so much in the world if we just put our mind to it. So definitely inspirational.

Dax Castro
Alright Guy, so we are getting close to the end of our podcast here, man. It has been great having you as a guest. And you know, Chad and I always love talking with our guests, because they open our mind to different ideas of doing things. And today we’ve talked about some automated solutions. We’ve talked about scripting and some other things. Can you give us kind of your final wisdom here on the journey that we are all on for accessibility?

The Accessibility Journey

Guy van der Kolk
Absolutely. The thing that inspired me about your podcast and about where I’m at with life in general is this idea of, “We don’t know everything.” And that’s really something that is clear. And I don’t like the expert label. You know, I know more than a lot of people about accessibility, which sort of makes me the experts, but then there’s always somebody who knows more. And I always think, “There’s room for learning.” I’ve given people advice over the years based on what I knew at that time. And then I was listening one of the episodes, I forgot which one, but it was a beautiful episode, because it was about “Don’t call it, click this or link that.” And you’ve read that everywhere. But then you hear this person explaining what that’s about. And then you’re like, “That’s the visual of your mind blowing for our listeners.

Dax Castro
For our listeners, he put his hands up to his head and quintessential exploding mind.

Guy van der Kolk
But more recently, I was working on a design for a new template for our internal marketing communications at Typefi. And a couple of… One of the other episodes was about the discussion around alt-text and marking things as artifacts. So the discussion around “Should an entire image be marked as an artifact?” Because I’ve been marking the little things as artifacts and just putting alt-text in. And I was looking at this brochure as I was preparing it for accessibility, as like it hit me, because there was this picture of a waterdrop. It’s a beautiful picture, but it was filler. It’s in the visual PDF. You’re looking at it. “Oh, this is a beautiful picture.” But it was 100% had nothing to do with anything on the page. And then that brought back that discussion on that podcast, like, wow. This is what that meant. Like this picture could in its entirely be marked as an artifact, and nobody would lose anything for it. Because it doesn’t have anything to do with the story. And that brings it back to this idea of, “We’re all humans trying to do the best we can.”

Dax Castro
And it’s a journey, man. We say it all the time. It is not a destination. I learned new stuff every single day. You know, Chad and I… There’s lots of conversations we’ve had that never make the podcast, that are about trying different things. “Oh, let’s test this with a screen reader. What are the different ways that this comes out? And is this being read right? And all of that.” You know, when we go to a conference and someone will ask a question, and we go back and research it. And definitely it pushes you. And I think the moment you stop trying to learn new things or expand your knowledge is the moment you start becoming irrelevant.

Guy van der Kolk
Yep, absolutely.

Chad Chelius
And that’s it. That’s a great way of describing it. I mean, Dax and I were just on a meeting yesterday where I was running into an issue in InDesign and NVDA. I had actual text on elements, but NVDA was reading it as a figure. And we were talking about that how that’s kind of the point of actual text is that it’s typically not read as a figure. We didn’t figure it out. We don’t know why. So we can certainly get stumped too.

Guy van der Kolk
The magic of InDesign.

Chad Chelius
Yeah. To his point, we’re always learning. And I think that’s one of the things I love about what we do.

Dax Castro
Well Guy, thank you so much, again, for being on our podcast. We really enjoyed having you.

Guy van der Kolk
Thank you guys.

Accessible Podcast Transcript

Dax Castro
And again, for all of our listeners, the full transcript with links to some of the different things we’ve talked about will be available on chaxchat.com and we stream on all major platforms, so feel free to forward us on to a friend that deals with accessibility. We’d love to gain our listeners. Hey Chad, with this month, we had 850 podcast downloads. Actually it would be last month, the month of August. So that’s awesome. So anyway…

Chad Chelius
That is.

Dax Castro
Yeah. We love getting feedback, and we definitely get… You know, send us an email or drop a comment on the podcast page, because we read everyone.

Chad Chelius
and if there’s something you want to know about that we haven’t covered, throw us ideas.

Dax Castro
Absolutely.

Chad Chelius
I mean, we would love to know what you’re clamoring for, what you want to learn about, and we’ll definitely talk about it. Well, I think that wraps us up for today, Dax and Guy. Once again, I want to thank AbleDocs for being our sponsor. Again, AbleDocs, is the makers of axesWord, axesPDF, as well as document remediation services. And just to remind everybody, if you are a company that is interested in sponsoring our podcast, like a company, for example, Typefi, please reach out to us and let us know and we’d be glad to have you on as a sponsor for one of our upcoming episodes. That’s it for us. My name is Chad Chelius.

Dax Castro
And my name is Dax Castro. And together we are Chax Chat, where we unravel accessibility for you.

Chad Chelius
Thanks, guys.

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