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Making Print and Scanned Documents Accessible with Adobe Acrobat

This document details steps for making print and scanned documents accessible for users that rely on screen readers and other assistive technologies.


Getting Started
Scanning the Document
Making the Document Accessible
OCR Scanning Multiple Files


Getting Started

Adobe Acrobat can be used to make documents more accessible so that people who use assistive technologies, like text-to-speech readers, can engage with the content of the document. Text-to-speech tools need to use the information "embedded" within a digital document to fully describe the content to the user. Materials like paper handouts, scans from textbooks, photos of text, and hand-written documents are not accessible for users that rely on screen readers unless additional measures are taken. To make these types of documents accessible:

  • Scan the material to generate a PDF.
  • OCR (Optical Character Recognition) scan the PDF to convert the text into machine-encoded text.
  • Add metadata to the document so that an application can "read" the title of the document.
  • Add alternative text to images, figures, graphs, maps, charts, and other visual material in the document.


Scanning the Document

If the document is printed media, first scan the document and save it as a PDF. When you scan the pages, make sure they are straight on the scanning bed and keep the material as still as possible.


Making the Document Accessible

1. Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat.

2. Select "OCR Scanning" on the right-hand tool menu. This will straighten the images and identify text. 

Screenshot of Acrobat OCR Button

3. In the new menu at the top of the document editor:

        1. Select "Recognize Text."

        2. Select "In This File."

        ***NOTE: Navigate to the OCR Scanning Multiple Files section to use the "In Multiple Files..." function.***

Screenshot of Recognize Text in this File Button

4. Select "Recognize Text" button that appears underneath the Scan & OCR toolbar. Adobe Acrobat will start identifying the text in your document.

***NOTE: This part might take a few minutes as it scans all of your pages.***

Screenshot of Recognize Text in this File

5. A progress bar will appear, and will show that it is "Converting scanned page to Searchable Image Exact."

screenshot of progress bar

6. To make this document text-accessible, select "More Tools" in the menu on the right-hand side of the screen.

Screenshot of More Tools Option

7. Scroll down until you see a section labeled Protect & Standardize. Select "Add" under Action Wizard.

Screenshot of Protect and Standardize Section

8. In the Actions List menu on the right side of the screen, select "Make Accessible."

Screenshot of Actions List in Acrobat

9. This will open the Make Accessible tab. Select "Start."

Screenshot of Start Button

10. In the following pop-up menu:

        1. Uncheck Leave As Is.

        2. Enter in a title for the document.

        3. Select "Okay."

Screenshot of General Settings in Acrobat

11. In General Settings:

        1. Select "EditableText and Images" for Output.

        2. Select "Okay."

Select the Output Screenshot in Acrobat

12. On the next screen, select whether the document is meant to be a fillable form or not.

Screenshot from Acrobat Asking if this Document is a Fillable Form

13. On the Set Reading Language screen:

1. Select the primary language of the document.

2. Select "OK."

Screenshot from Acrobat Asking for User to Select Language

14. On the next pop-up window, select "OK."

Screenshot of Detect Figures Window

15. If Adobe recognizes images without alt text, the following screen will appear:

1. Supply an alternative text description or mark the image as decorative.

        2. Select the arrow to provide alt text to each image Adobe recogizes.

3. Select "Save & Close."

Screenshot of ALT Text Input Screen

16. The Accessibility Checker Options pop-up menu will open. Select "Start Checking."

Screenshot of Accessibility Report within Acrobat

17. The Accessibility Checker tab will open on the left side of the page. Review any flagged accessibility issues and address them if necessary. To learn more about the Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Checker, navigate to the following Adobe guide: Check accessibility of PDFs (Acrobat Pro).

18. Save your document. Now your document has text that can be identified by a text-to-speech reader, a machine-readable title, and figures with alt text.


OCR Scanning Multiple Files

1. Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat.

2. Select "OCR Scanning" on the right-hand tool menu. This will straighten the images and identify text. 

Screenshot of Acrobat OCR Button

3. In the new menu at the top of the document editor:

        1. Select "Recognize Text."

        2. Select "In Multiple Files..."

Screenshot of Multiple Files

4. In the Add Files page:

        1. Select "Add Files."

        2. Select if you want to add an additional file or folder.

Screenshot of Add Files Page

5. Select any files you want to add in from File Explorer."

6. Select "OK."

Screenshot of Add Files

7. In the next window, make changes as you see fit, then select "OK."

Screenshot of Output Options Page

8. In General Settings:

        1. Select "EditableText and Images" for Output.

        2. Select "Okay."

Select the Output Screenshot in Acrobat

9. When making the document accessible using the Action Wizard, you will have to add the same files again.




Keywords:accommodations, SAS, OCR, scanner, optical character recognition, highlight text, reader, text to speech, kurzweil, assistive, accessibility, screenreader, PDF   Doc ID:114734
Owner:Kate F.Group:UW Green Bay
Created:2021-11-08 15:03 CSTUpdated:2022-11-29 14:33 CST
Sites:UW Green Bay
Feedback:  2   0