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Message - public meetings calendar
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Posted by  Kevin Matthews on October 08, 2001 at 16:16:04:


Dear City of Eugene Web Staff,

Thank you for providing so much information on the web. The City of Eugene web site is a truly great resource, and I hope it will only continue to grow. I particularly look forward to the day when a web interface to the City GIS system becomes available for the public.

I noticed recently at:

http://www.ci.eugene.or.us/council/pubmtgs.htm

a note saying that "The Public Meetings Calendar is now in Adobe Acrobat. The free Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in software is required to read the document."

Normally, as a neighborhood leader receiving physical mailings, I don't have to consult the calendar online, so I have no idea when a change to Acrobat format was instituted.

Now that this technical change has come to my attention, it causes some concern which I feel duty-bound to share with you. In my experience both as an Internet-using neighborhood leader and as an online entrepreneur, I have found that a substantial fraction of everyday citizens have real difficulty accessing information in Adobe Acrobat format.

In my experience, the simple difference between vanilla HTML files, and Acrobat files, is enough to block 25% to 50% of potential visitors from successfully viewing information.

To technically saavy web staff, and well-supported public officials, the difference between HTML delivery and Acrobat files may often be invisible. But for average people on their own, the difficulty of downloading and installing an additional application, and the additional memory and configuration requirements to successfully run the helper application, can present an insurmountable roadblock.

Given the present state of personal computing and web standards, I'd like to encourage the City to use plain HTML 3.2 format for public documents online whenever possible. To ensure good public accessibility, I'd recommend that Adobe Acrobat format be reserved for use only when preservation of special document formatting makes it necessary.

And keep up the good work!

Best wishes,

Kevin Matthews
Southeast Neighbors
ArchitectureWeek


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