Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

PDF Document Accessibility

There are three ways to create a PDF:

  • Converting a source file, like a PowerPoint or a Word document to a PDF
  • Scanning a hard copy of a document to PDF
  • Creating the document in Adobe Acrobat Pro.

For more information, the Accessible PDF Documents training is available for faculty.

Converting Office Files

Mac users: Word 2016 and later on a Mac can create an accessible PDF, but unfortunately previous Mac versions of MS Office cannot be converted to an accessible PDF. You can install Microsoft Office 365 on up to 5 personal devices if you log in with your PCC credentials.

How to save an accessible PDF in Office
This article from Microsoft provides basic directions on how to create Accessible PDFs from your Word, Excel, powerpoint, Visio, and publisher files.

Exporting Google Files

Currently, selecting “download as PDF” on google doc, sheet, or slides file does not result in an accessible PDF. You can still create an accessible PDF from this source file using one of these tools.

Using Grackle

The Grackle Suite for Docs and Slides features a robust accessibility checker and an export to PDF button. Exporting through Grackle will provide a properly tagged PDF.

  1. Install the Add-On
    • Grackle has separate add-ons for each type of Drive file which you will need to install before your first use.
    • With your file open, open the Add-ons menu and select Get Add-ons.
    • In the search field, type Grackle.
  2. Launch the Add-On
    • With your file open, open the Add-ons menu and select Grackle > Launch.
    • If you are asked to sign-in, use your PCC account information.
  3. Resolve any Issues
    • Scroll through Grackle’s sidebar and select any item for more information.
    • Address any items with a red x before export.
  4. Export to PDF
    • Within the Grackle Sidebar, select the Export to PDF button.
    • In the window that pops up, select Save and wait for your file to process.
    • Select the Download button
Using Office

Scanning to PDF

Scanning with Knowledge 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 email: 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 Within Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

If you have a personal scanner, you can scan files directly into Adobe Acrobat. If you are having trouble getting a quality result, see the section below on scanning using Read&Write Desktop.

  • Select “File”, “create”, “PDF from Scanner”
  • Follow the steps below to correct OCR before continuing to the Accessibility Check or Make Accessible tools.
Running and Correcting OCR with Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition, and can be a useful tool for creating an accessible PDF from a high-quality scan.

  • In the Tools panel select “Scan & OCR”
  • If your document does not yet have selectable text, select “Recognize Text”, “In This File”.
  • In the toolbar select “Recognize Text”, “Correct Recognized Text”
  • Acrobat will now go through and identify any word conversion it is unsure of and allow you to manually correct them.
  • There will now be an additional toolbar displaying the suspected words. Toggle the “Review recognized text” box to display the result text in the document.
  • Continue with an Accessibility Check or the Make Accessible tool (See the Using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC section)

screenshot of proof reading in acrobat

Using Read&Write Desktop’s Document Scanner

You can use Read&Write desktop if you are using a personal scanner, or If you have a scanned PDF without selectable text that needs OCR(Optical Character Recognition). You may want to try Adobe Acrobat Pro DCs built-in OCR tools first, but the scan tool within Read&Write will likely produce a better result if you are starting from a document with quality issues such as poor contrast.

  •  Install Read&Write Desktop
  • In Read&Write, select the “Scan” button
  • Select your scanner device, or click on the folder icon to scan from a file, and select the scan button.
  • Open your output in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC and continue with an Accessibility Check.

Using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

The Make Accessible action ensures that the PDFs you create in Adobe Acrobat Pro are accessible by meeting WCAG 2.0 and PDF/UA standards.

Note: PCC Faculty and Staff can download and install Adobe Creative Cloud (access instructions using your PCC credentials)