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Overcoming the challenges of accessible publishing

Guy van der Kolk
Senior Solutions Consultant, Typefi

Almost five years ago, I learned about my first major project as a fresh Typefi employee: I was to implement a multilingual, multi-format accessible workflow at a specialised agency of the United Nations. No pressure!

Fortunately, I am multilingual, and had a lot of experience with multiple formats, but I had no idea what this accessibility thing was all about.

Needless to say, the learning curve was high. However, I did not have to go at it alone: colleagues had done some of this work before, and the internet is a veritable treasure trove of information.

Now, after five years of helping Typefi customers successfully implement accessible publishing workflows, I have learnt a thing or two about accessible publishing challenges—and how to overcome them—that I would like to share with you.

Nuggets of Word wisdom (Part 1)

Guy van der Kolk
Senior Solutions Consultant, Typefi

There is absolutely no doubt that Microsoft Word is the most-used word processing application on the planet, especially in corporate environments.

Even though I can’t back that statement up with some relevant statistical data or a beautiful infographic, I can definitely back it up with 20 years of experience dealing with the publishing industry!

However, the fact that something is the most-used application doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is adept at using it. As with all things, we humble users are often pressed for time and use software the way we were taught—if we were lucky enough to have received formal training.

Machine learning—what language should I use?

Ben Hauser
VP Engineering, Typefi

Choosing a programming language for a project is an important decision with significant consequences. The most appropriate language can slash the time and effort required to solve a particular problem.

The original Typefi Engine was written in the programming language Java. It turns out this was actually a terrible decision, as Java has no direct access to the InDesign Object Model. We got around this at the time by writing a C++ InDesign plugin to expose an API for the Java program to use.