[linux-elitists] Suggestion to publish court opinions in secret Microsoft word processor format

Jay Sulzberger jays@panix.com
Wed Feb 5 00:09:01 PST 2003

  date="Tuesday, February 04, 2003">

All this is just an unfortunately longwinded introduction to an email that
I received today from the Webmaster for the Washington State
Courts. (Imagine what it would be like to introduce yourself using that
title at a cocktail party.) The email states:

   I am a Webmaster for the Washington State Courts Internet site
   (www.courts.wa.gov). We have been posting published and
   unpublished opinions on our website since 1996. When we started
   making the opinions available, we had a requirement to do so in
   text format and we are still doing the same today.

   However, come summer we will have a new Appellate Court
   processing system in place and our options for changing how we
   make opinions available will broaden. Given this, we are looking
   at html, Word, and PDF as alternative display methods. We are
   leaning strongly toward Word or PDF, with Word being our top
   choice at this time.

   As these discussion move forward, I have been in contact with the
   Washington State Supreme Court Commissioner. He mentioned the
   "How Appealing" website and your comments regarding PDF as the
   preferred method for display.

   Since you recommend PDF, I am wondering how you suggest courts
   deal with accessibility issues. As I am sure you know, PDF is not
   considered an accessible format, as a PDF document is essentially
   an image. While I realize that Adobe has recently come out with a
   version of PDF that is supposed to be able to be read by screen
   readers, my understanding is they are not very good and that
   documents have to go through an extraordinary conversion process.

   When attending an accessibility seminar for Government employees
   held recently in Washington, the recommendation was to avoid the
   use of PDF unless an alternative version of the same document
   could also be provided. Do you know if most courts that provide
   PDF versions also provide an alternative format? If so what
   format seems to be the primary choice?

   Thanks for your time and thoughts on this matter.

If any of my technologically proficient readers have thoughts to offer in
response to the questions posed in this email from the Webmaster for the
Washington State Courts Internet site, please send me an email, and I will
collect and forward on to the Webmaster of the Washington State Courts
system the most useful comments that I receive.

   posted by Howard Bashman 9:36 PM


Howard Bashman's email address is



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