the fields would not use input areas. Instead, the user would print the page and complete the form with a pen. ... From a screen reader perspective, are there any tips you can give to make the page more accessible?
Heh heh, from that perspective, a form would be better. How is a blind user going to fill in a printed form with a pen? A proper HTML form allows it to be done by anyone. Underline characters won't mean much when read out.
It is possible to style a form to look like a printed form with underlines. Here's a nice example:
I have a PDF reader but you can't fill anything in with it. I would have to buy the Acrobat Suite. So someone wanting me to fill out their PDF had better be willing to go buy that for me :)
But our insurance company did similar: there was the online form you could fill out, but if you wanted to print and snail to us, there was an HTML form, which you could either fill out on the computer and then print, or just print. A print stylesheet turned inputs into
and we added explanatory text to the print stylesheet (use black or blue pen etc) and removed the submit button and other web-form styling to make it look like our paper forms.
For print this worked fine, except in Firefox because that browser has untold retarded Netscape bugs in it... not being able to print half a fieldset on a single page being one of them. If you have long fieldsets, tell users to use a better, modern browser like IE instead of Firefox :)
We had Reader on all our Windows machines, but none of them could make any changes to our PDFs. The boss could, but he had the whole Suite, and thought everyone with Windows did.
There are copies of reader available free for all common operating systems.
You can't update the PDF itself using reader but if the PDF has a form defined within it to overlay the page then you can fill that out and save it as an FDF. You only need the full version of Acrobat (or an equivalent program) in order to create the overlay for the form.
I used to use a PDF with form overlay for a club new membership application form so that those that wanted to could fill it out online before printing it already filled out and those that preferred could simply print it out and then fill it in by hand. It did involve having to copy all the form fields from the old form to the new one every time there were any changes so to reduce my workload I switched to using an HTML form to collect the information and then store the information as well as generating the PDF with the fields filled out (and a code number on the form to match it back to the stored info to save me having to retype it).
I suspect Orca would be limited to how well it deals with OpenOffice more than anything... recently someone on the list was mentioning working with some new Adobe PDF reader for Linux, but ultimately he still ended up converting to text and opening the file in gEdit to really read it. https://mail.gnome.org/archives/orca.../msg00520.html
The only speech-recognition software I know of is Dragon (Windows) and I have no idea how easy or hard it is to fill out a form on a PDF with Dragon compared to an HTML form. Or some other kind of form.