Identifying and Finding Alternatives to Non-Accessible PDFS

Many course readings and documents are provided to students as PDFs. While the ability to use digital versions of materials is helpful, there are some pdfs that create challenges for students wanting to take notes, search through the pdf, or use assistive technology to have it read out loud.

Identifying Non-Accessible PDFs and Accessible Alternatives

How to identify a non-accessible pdf

  • Ally in Canvas tells you “this pdf is scanned.”
  • You can’t select the text with your mouse and paste it into a Word document.
  • It is a scanned document that has:
    • handwritten notes in the margins
    • text that has been marked with a highlighter
    • a two-page spread on each page
    • blurry text at the page edges or shadowed text near the binding

How to identify a more accessible version of a course reading

  • The reading is available as html on a web page rather than a PDF (example HTML version vs PDF version)
  • The scanned pdf has one page of the original text per page, is clean and clear of markings or highlights, and has text that can be copied and pasted into another document.
  • The reading is available online in multiple formats, providing students a choice. This might include audio, html, or accessible PDF. (example of an article in multiple formats)

Finding or Creating an Alternative to a Non-Accessible PDF

An accessible version of your course reading may already exist

  • Check CBBCat for accessible e-book chapters. For best results, limit search to e-books.
  • Visit the Find Journals page to locate accessible electronic journal, magazine, or newspaper content in Library databases.
  • Find an accessible e-book using Bookshare. Contact Lesley Levy in the Student Accessibility Office for more information.
  • For guidance on using Library tools to find accessible content, consult your research librarian.

You may need to create an accessible PDF and there is help