Neil Soiffer recognized for his work to make math in PDF accessible
At their annual conference earlier this month in Orlando, The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) presented Design Science's Neil Soiffer with their Distinguished Service Award. AIIM annually recognizes individuals whose service has benefited the advancement of enterprise content management (ECM) technology. That's just a fancy way of saying that standards development benefits us all, and that Neil's contributions to the PDF/UA project have been a great help in advancing PDF accessibility standards.
The PDF/UA standard is important to the accessibility of PDF documents because it establishes guidelines regarding what must be done to documents to make them accessible. Neil championed for accessible math from the start by demonstrating equations in PDF being read aloud by a screen reader as an early proof of concept. He has also been working on defining how equation information as MathML should be structured within PDF. Once this structure is adopted as part of the PDF/UA standard, authoring tools will be able to write PDF documents that can be read aloud using assistive technologies. We anticipate that capability with the release of PDF/UA v2, which is expected a year from now. Other promising work already underway toward accessible PDFs is the "TeX+MathML for Tagged PDF" project.
The reason the PDF/UA standard is becoming a reality is because of the work of math accessibility advocates like Neil Soiffer and others. Why not check out our Math Accessibility Advocacy page to see how you can become involved?