disabilities to required government forms made available only as PDF
format. Today I heard a similar complaint from a rather different
source. A veteran who was laid off from his job was trying to fill out
some forms for benefits from the VA. The forms were:
a) available only as PDFs,
b) required to be filled in,
c) required to be submitted electronically. OK, now think about this for a sec. Lots of folk in Michigan have been
laid off. My town was hit pretty hard over the past couple years, like
so many others. Imagine trying to this – the steps involved. First,
get to transportation, get to a computer, get network access, find and
download the forms. Now, did you get somewhere you can print? Can you
edit the file? Adobe Acrobat PDFs are not editable in Reader, so you
need to either find access to the Professional version of the software
to edit the file, or you need to print it, fill it in by hand (good
luck finding a typewriter anymore!!), then somehow make it digital
again, upload it, and submit THAT. Yes, you can do it, but there are
an awful lot of IFs along the way. IF you have access to a printer, computer, all that.
IF you can still afford network access.
IF you have easy transportation.
IF you have access to Adobe Acrobat Pro (~$450)
IF you have access to a scanner or digital camera.
and so forth. People were making all kinds of suggestions for him.
– Save it under a new name, which should create an unlocked version.
(Reader didn’t support “Save As” for the file)
– Use an online tool that creates PDFs. (He didn’t need to create, he
needed to edit.)
– Find a friend with a scanner.
– Find an old version of the same file online in the Wayback Machine
and pray that the old version wasn’t locked.
– Download a shareware tool that let’s you edit one or two and then
locks the software. (He had several forms to edit and submit.)
– Use one of the online services that allows you to upload to an
account and edit there. (He was rightly concerned about saving this
kind of personal information to a 3rd party service, not to mention
that the services usually charge a monthly fee.) PDF Escape to the rescue! Yes, you *can* create an account, BUT (here
is the important part), you don’t have to to edit the PDF. And if you
don’t create an account, you don’t save it, and it doesn’t cost
anything. At last. Now, the real question is WHEN is the US government going to quit
CREATING this problem???