moderated Re: Creating an Accessible PDf Document

Gudrun Brunot

Hi Rahul:

You are right: there are two kinds of pdf files.

1. scanned images, which are not accessible without using OCR.

2. text-based pdf files, where the text has been prepared by, say, MS Word or other word processing software and then saved as a .pdf file.

Since there is no way to really tell, visually, what type of pdf file you have, a sighted person may not even realize that they are sending you a file you can't access directly.

Where this presents extra difficulty is if you, the visually impaired person, is the one who is going to not read, but also process, the document. Maybe you're expected to edit or translate the document and , god help you, prefer the format. Exploding formats are the curse in my profession (I'm a translator).

I believe pdf files can be imported in Word 2016, I seem to have read that somewhere.

To convert an image-based pdf file, software such as Adobe PDF Transformer is a good tool, though the accessibility is a bit tricky at times, if you need to change the parameters, such as keeping normal layout, recognize a language other than English, etc.

Properly tagging a pdf file makes it more accessible. Again, since it doesn't make a hill of beans of difference to the sighted user if a pdf file is poorly tagged, we often get files that are problematic. Try the JAWS help, applications, adobe, and there should be, if I'm not misremembering, something about how to prepare accessible documents.

Hope it helps, and good luck.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Rahul Bajaj
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2018 7:05 AM
Subject: Creating an Accessible PDf Document

Hi everyone,

I have to make a representation to a large institution as to how they
can make their documents accessible, so I'd really appreciate some
help in terms of understanding the nuts and bolts of how a PDF can be
designed in an accessible format.

As I understand it, if a document is scanned with a scanner, without
using the OCR feature, it ends up as a scanned image that is
completely inaccessible and unsearchable. As a result, the only way to
make a PDF accessible from its inception is to use an OCR engine after
scanning the document. Is my understanding accurate? Further, do most
scanners contain a built in OCR feature, or can this only be done with
a third party application such as fine reader? This organization would
be averse to the idea of purchasing a third party app, so I need to
propose a solution that is cost effective.

Apart from using OCR, are there any other less cumbersome ways of
making a PDF accessible from inception? Forgive me for my ignorance.


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