How to spot the difference


The world is filled with a lot of PDFs. In your course, this may be one of the most used content types.  The above video outlines the difference between a searchable PDF, meaning that you can highlight the text, and an image only pdf.

Things to remember:

Below are a few things to consider about PDFs. We'll go through each in detail in the following sections.

Creating your own PDFs

Many times you may be converting your own content from an accessible powerpoint/word document into a PDF version. In that instance, its important that you are making the original source file accessible from the start.

You should keep in mind that when saving to a PDF, not all of the accessible feature you've built in (i.e headers, alt text, etc) may convert over. Before converting your documents into a PDF, ask yourself why you are converting the file type. If it's because of security (i.e you don't want students to copy and paste), consider making your file read-only instead.

Using 3rd Party PDFs

Many times you may find PDFs from third party indexes and databases. When you do so, be sure to find the PDF that has searchable text. While this may not be completely accessible it will go a long way for a screen reader or a user that utilizes text to speech. One quick way to evaluating a PDF is to see if you can highlight the text. Also be sure open up the navigation pane in the PDF. If you can identify the various sections, this means that the headers are all labeled. Again, this does not mean the document is fully accessible, but more accessible then your image only version.

Scanning into a PDF or use of image only PDFs

If you must scan be sure to enable OCR (optical character recognition, often times abbreviated to just OCR in software). This will turn an image of the letter A into a readable, searchable letter A. There are also software like SensusAccess that is free for all Rutgers use, that will allow you to convert the document into a searchable PDF.

Next Faculty Training Topic: Creating Accessible PDF's

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Creating Accessible Documents
Faculty Training on Accessibility
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