[Linux-aus] comment for an article on Government website accessibility

Donna Benjamin donna at cc.com.au
Thu May 28 08:55:36 EST 2009

Hi Dahna,

I agree with all Mike Carden's responses.  The biggest problem with
non-compliant websites is the lack of multi-browser support and the use
of web technologies that are only supported by one OS or one browser.

His point about RTF and PDF is very important.  RTF is not a standard.
ODF is an ISO standard, and governments around the world have been
adopting it at a rate of knots. I wish ours would too, Federal, State
and Local.  It seems the ANAO report you reference is largely concerned
with documents tabled to parliament, and a key factor of interest is
preserving consistency between the soft-copy available online, with the
printed copy actually tabled in parliament, and sent to the various
libraries and offices as required. (including the press gallery!). As
such, PDF is probably the most appropriate document standard for this

As Mike showed, PDF is an open standard and widely implemented. However
it is useful for finished documents. Perfect for govt publications.
Where it is not as useful is for for collaboration, work-in-progress and
interoperability, where users need to add to or edit that document.

The other key issue of interest is the license under which government
information is released. The Govt publishes a vast range of material.
Most of it is crown copyright. It would be great if that material which
could be licensed for re-use WAS released for re-use, using creative
commons licenses. But this is more about the content of those documents,
rather than the standard or format of the file itself.

Donna Benjamin - Executive Director
Creative Contingencies - http://cc.com.au
ph +61 3 9326 9985 - mob +61 418 310 414
open source - facilitation - web services
On Tue, 2009-05-26 at 17:11 +1000, Mike Carden wrote:
> Hi Dahna.
> > less than five per cent were in RTF.
> Zero percent RTF would be good, but getting down to five is a step in
> the right direction. RTF is a bad, bad proprietary format that is
> rarely rendered the same way twice by any two pieces of software. Even
> software from the format's originator is inconsistent with it.
> > In contrast, over 95
> > per cent of the documents examined in 2008 were in PDF, being a
> > proprietary software format.
> Well, no it's not really. PDF 1.4 is a fully documented and non
> proprietary ISO standard:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PDF
> Many, many free implementaions of PDF viewers are out there:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_PDF_software#Viewers
> What would be nice would be all government web sites being standards
> compliant in their HTML and browser agnostic.
> Cheers,
> Michael
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