Creating Accessible PDFs

Accessible PDFs

Westfield State students, staff, and faculty receive access to Adobe, where you do not need to create a free trial. When it comes to sharing information online, prioritizing webpages over PDFs is essential for ensuring accessibility and user-friendliness. However, in certain circumstances, the use of PDFs may be unavoidable. In such cases, it's imperative to ensure that these documents are accessible to all users, regardless of their abilities or assistive technologies. Here's a guide to creating accessible PDFs to guarantee that your content remains inclusive and easily accessible to everyone.

How to use OCR Software for PDFs

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a technology designed to identify text within digital images. This technology is frequently utilized to recognize text in scanned documents and images, enabling the conversion of physical paper documents or images into electronic formats with editable text.

  1. Open a PDF file containing a scanned image in Acrobat for Mac or PC.

  2. Click on the “Edit PDF” tool in the right pane. Acrobat automatically applies optical character recognition (OCR) to your document and converts it to a fully editable copy of your PDF.

  3. Click the text element you wish to edit and start typing. New text matches the look of the original fonts in your scanned image.

  4. Choose “File” > “Save As” and type a new name for your editable document.

Cited from "How to edit scanned documents," Adobe, May 14, 2024,

What to do when a PDF is NOT accessible — 3 Options

  1. Create a text-based alternative instead of (or in addition to) the PDF. The best text-based alternative is a regular (HTML) web page. The vast majority of all users (whether they have a disability or not) prefer regular web pages over PDFs.

  2. Make your PDF accessible. See “PDF Accessibility” for instructions.
  3. Offer to email PDFs (and other non-accessible media) to users upon request. This is an acceptable option if your PDF is a book or other multi-page document that would be extremely difficult or time-consuming to make accessible or recreate as a regular web page.

Looking for additional resources?

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