PDF Document Accessibility

For help, contact: Karen Sorensen

Creating the PDF

There are two ways to create a PDF, either converting a source file, like a PowerPoint or a Word document to a PDF or scanning a hard copy of a document to PDF.

Converting to a PDF

Mac users, unfortunately MS Office 2011 and previous Mac versions of MS Office cannot be converted to an accessible PDF. Please refer to: Ways to make an accessible PDF on a Mac.

Convert/save-as an accessible PDF from a Microsoft 2010 Word or Powerpoint document:
  1. Start with a well structured, accessible word document or presentation.
  2. Click the File tab and select Save as. In the Save as type field, select PDF (*.pdf).
  3. Enter a file name in the File name field.
  4. Click on the Options button and make sure the Document structure tags for accessibility and Create bookmarks using Headings checkboxes are checked.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Click Save.This will tag all of the text formatting so page headings and lists are correctly interpreted by a screen reader.

Scanning to PDF

You can scan with the fancy Knowledge Image Center kiosks in each PCC library or in the Faculty Production lab on your campus.

Scanning with Knowledge Imaging Center (KIC) kiosks in the library:
  1. Place the document on the scanner bed.
  2. Touch Scan on the interactive touch screen. Then answer the copyright notice/question.
  3. An image of the scanned page will be displayed on the screen.
  4. For multiple pages, repeat steps 1 through 3.
  5. With the default settings, the KIC scanner will create an accessible (and searchable) PDF.
  6. There are multiple options to output the document:
    • Save to USB Drive: To save the document to a flash drive.
    • Send via E-mail: To send the document to yourself or other recipients.
      • NOTE: When select, a virtual keyboard will be displayed on the touch screen for you to enter the email address. To send multiple email addresses, add a semicolon (;) to separate between each email address.

(This information published in the KIC Help Desk Guide.)

Scanning with the Scanners in the Faculty Production Labs
  1. Open Adobe Acrobat Pro.
  2. Under the File menu, select Create > PDF from Scanner and choose Auto-detect Color Mode.
  3. Follow the instructions from the pop-up window and select your choices (repeat the steps for multiple documents).
  4. When done, click OK.
  5. After scanning the document, run optical character recognition on it so the text is readable by screen readers. You can run optical character recognition using Adobe Acrobat Pro (not Acrobat Reader). Optical Character Recognition (OCR) makes the text readable with assistive technology. It also makes your PDF searchable!

Does the PDF need Optical Character Recognition (OCR) ?

OCR is only necessary if the text on the PDF is not real text. Can you select or copy the text? If not, your PDF needs optical character recognition (OCR).

Running Optical Character Recognition (OCR) with Adobe Acrobat Pro
  1. Open your PDF file.
  2. Open the Tools panel (click "Tools" in top right) and click "Recognize Text".
  3. Click "In this File" and click the Edit button to adjust your OCR settings.
    1. Select the language of the text.
    2. For output style, choose Searchable Image for PDF Output Style and Down-sample to 600 dpi.
  4. Click okay when done.
Correcting OCR Errors with Adobe Acrobat Pro
  • In the Tools panel, under "Recognize Text", click on "Find First Suspect"
  • Acrobat will now go through and identify any word conversion it is unsure of and allow you to manually correct them.
  • The pop-up window shows you the picture of the suspected word.  The text on the page shows you Acrobat's interpretation of the suspected word. To fix spelling, click on the word in the page, enter the correct text, and then click Accept and Find to move to the next suspect.
    screenshot of proof reading in acrobat

    proof reading in Acrobat

  • To save as a PDF, go to File > Save.  For other file types, go to File > Save As and choose from Word, HTML, plain text, and others.

Run the Adobe Acrobat built in accessibility checker

Adobe Acrobat Professional

Adobe Acrobat Professional has a built-in accessibility checker.

If you have Adobe Acrobat Professional, run an accessibility check on your PDF. You can find the accessibility checker under the Tools panel on the right hand side. Accessibility Checker in Adobe Acrobat Pro

  1. Click the Tools tab to open the Accessibility panel on the right hand side.
    • If you don't see it there, click the View menu and select Tools > Accessibility.
  2. Select the Full Check button under Accessibility..
  3. The Accessibility Full Check window will open.
    • On the Report and Comment Options:
      • Check on Create Accessibility Report and Include repair hints in Accessibility Reports.
    • On the Checking Options section:
      • Name: Adobe PDF
      • Select All items to be checked.
  4. Click on the Start Checking button.
  5. The Accessibility Report will display.

Adobe Acrobat Reader

Even in the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software you can do a Quick Check on the accessibility of your document. (PDF courtesy of JiscTechDis).

Additional Resources