New test service from SiteMorse solves global PDF accessibility issues

PRESS RELEASE

London – January 15, 2006 – For immediate release:

Over seventy per cent of PDF documents tested on websites belonging to FTSE 100 enterprises failed to be fully accessible, according to a survey conducted in December 2006 by automated website testing company SiteMorse.

To address this important issue - one that products used to create PDFs cannot do - SiteMorse has officially launched today a new and low-cost test service for checking Adobe PDF files. The new facility is an integrated part of the company’s existing and comprehensive service that enables websites to be tested and benchmarked for availability, usability and compliance with mandatory, corporate and industry standards.

Based on web standards available from Adobe, SiteMorse claims the new testing service is the first of its type in the world to successfully check accessibility to PDFs.

“Poor quality PDFs are a very important issue, one that is not confined to the private sector,” said Gareth Evans, marketing director of SiteMorse. “When we acted on our own initiative and surveyed UK Central Government websites in December 2006, using the new service, nearly ninety per cent of PDF’s we examined had problems. Local Government didn’t fare much better; seventy-nine per cent failed our test.

“The real issue is that organisations - and their suppliers - are not testing new and existing PDFs on their sites regularly and rigorously enough. In turn, their audiences are being frustrated and denied access to information or connections they need.”

The PDF is ubiquitous and the world relies on this type of document, said Evans, from the mandatory annual report to simple directions on how to find somewhere: “The tools used for creating PDFs cannot perform the tests. Now, with this new and world beating testing service, there is no excuse for poor performance.”

SiteMorse’s new service will speedily and efficiently examine the contents of a PDF file and is designed to perform up to twenty-eight tests. These tests identify problems for correction, so that once fixed users may gain full access to the information contained in the file. Common failings revealed by the service include broken or incorrect links to other websites, e-mail addresses that are not formatted correctly or no longer in use, or missing images and fonts.

Results from a test are presented to the user of the service in the form of an executive summary and a detailed technical report. It lists failures, enabling the right action to be taken to eliminate the problem. For example, the SiteMorse test detects many different kinds of malfunction with embedded hyperlinks. It will also contact mail servers to verify that addresses provided in ‘mailto:’ links are correct and functional.

For people affected by physical disabilities another function of the new service helps improve access to PDF files for this type of user. The format of the file itself provides features that enable document authors to ensure the PDF is accessible to all users, including those who are disabled: it includes ‘tags’ within the file indicating the logical document structure and reading order. SiteMorse’s service singles out PDF files that lack these tags. The file may then be examined in detail for accessibility compliance, enabling appropriate corrective action to be taken.

Copies of the surveys SiteMorse has carried out on the performance of websites in the public and private sectors are available - in PDF format - on the company’s website. In addition, the company invites the press and readers to test, free of charge, a website or PDF – please visit http://www.sitemorse.com

INFORMATION ABOUT SITEMORSE
Established in 2001, SiteMorse is a British, privately owned company and offers a range of website testing services that require no setup, downloads or technical support to operate. Over 500 local and central government departments, FTSE companies and financial sector clients use SiteMorse services to help them maintain error-free, fully functioning and compliant websites. Compliance standards include HTML, eGMS, W3C, WAI accessibility, and specific standards laid down by suppliers (such as Adobe’s defined accessibility requirements for PDFs). The company is in its fourth year of working with SOCITM and SiteMorse products are also used by Government Sector Publishing, Blays Netratings and ISPA for website rankings and awards services.

ENDS

More information from:

Gareth Evans
SiteMorse Technologies Ltd
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7183 2508
E-mail: gevans@sitemorse.com
Web: http://www.sitemorse.com


Issued by:

Mark Mitchell
Pattison Mitchell & Associates
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7924 7700
E-mail: ptml@btinternet.com

Published on: 12:00AM on 15th January 2007