Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Unlock the PDFs

Heather Morrison, Unlock the PDFs, for the print disabled (and open access, too), a posting to SOAF and other lists, November 6, 2007.  Excerpt:

For the print disabled, the difference between a PDF that is locked down and one that is not, is the difference between a work that is accessible, and one that is one.

A locked PDF is an image file, with inaccessible text. An unlocked PDF has text that is accessible, that can be manipulated by screen readers designed for the print disabled. Even without special equipment, is it easy to see how an unlocked PDF can very easily be transformed into large print, or read aloud.

Publishers, please unlock your PDFs! Librarians, please ask about unlocked PDFs when you purchase.

The Budapest Open Access Initiative did not aim to meet the needs of the print disabled. This is just another side-benefit of open access.

Comment.  Exactly.  If publishers insist on using PDFs at all, then at least they should unlock them.  To facilitate re-use even further, they should offer HTML or XML editions alongside the PDFs.