Our first 10 years

13th May 2018 | by Ted Page

Open book icon This month we are celebrating 10 years since the founding of the Accessible Digital Documents Company (originally named PWS).

Leaving a secure job (as the web producer for the BBC Trust) to start a new venture at the beginning of the worst economic crisis for over 70 years was perhaps not perfect timing. But thanks our many great clients we survived and are today going stronger than ever.

Significant changes

The most significant change we have seen in this time has been a substantial growth in awareness of the importance and the benefits of document accessibility. Ten years ago, accessibility advocates were still very much a minority group. Nowadays, of course, accessibility is mainstream.

The world of digital publishing is also virtually unrecognisable from that of 10 years ago, with the emergence and subsequent development of the various EPUB and Kindle standards, and of course, the widespread adoption of mobiles, tablets and other dedicated digital publications’ reading devices.

The next 10 years

What will the next 10 years bring? Predictions are, of course, inherently problematic, but if pressed…

  • The widespread adoption of digital in the publishing industry, driven at least in part by its built-in accessibility capability. 
  • That PDF will continue to be an important and widely used format. A few years ago I may not have been so sure about this. But with the development of the PDF/UA standard (although still very much a work in progress) and with the emergence of new technologies to support authoring PDFs properly (such as the excellent axesPDF QuickFix) I am confident that PDF will continue to be the best (and most accessible) format for some types of document and some types of content for many years to come.
  • The best kept secret of accessible document navigation, namely indexes, will be out. It is already a legal requirement in Australia for public sector organisations to index their annual reports. Once the accessibility benefits of doing so are more widely recognised I’m sure the UNs, EUs, and World Banks of this world will routinely provide indexes for their most important documents.
  • Lastly, I would predict that the biggest growth area in accessibility over the next 10 years will be in the education sector. This is an area we are already heavily involved in but there is a great deal more that needs to (and I’m sure will) be done.

Thanks

Once again, a big thank you to all our clients over the last 10 years and I look forward to writing an update to this post in 10 years’ time (including a review of the accuracy of the above predictions).