Spring 2021 Guide and COVID-19 information


Creating Accessible PDFs

Creating accessible documents ensures that people using assistive technologies can read these documents. While online, people may use screen readers or magnifiers to access documents and the guidelines in this document ensure that these technologies will work more effectively. Please follow the guidelines below to create documents that will be easily accessed by all.

For more directions on creating accessible documents you can go to the Blackboard Organization - Accessibility Workshops. If you have any difficulty finding or accessing this org please contact the Technology Training Coordinator at ext. 2740 or Design Help in the library.


PDFs are not, in general, the best way to distribute content on the web.

The best use case for PDFs is to distribute print-ready materials, please consider other options before creating a PDF.

  • If the content must be contained in a separate document, distributing a protected Word document may be a better option
  • If you are creating a form, consider using Formstack instead (for information on Formstack contact Systems Administration and Web Services (SAWS))
  • If you are creating a PDF to post on a website consider adding the content to the website or creating a new web page instead

Saving a Word or PowerPoint document as a pdf

In order to create an accessible pdf from an original Word or PowerPoint document first add alt text and other accessibility features, then use the Accessibility Checker in the Microsoft program to check for any accessibility issues that still need to be corrected. When the Accessibility Checker says that no accessibility issues have been found, then save the document as an Adobe pdf.

  1. Save the document in a .docx or .pptx format
  2. Select File > Save as Adobe pdf
  3. Choose the file name and location of the pdf document
  4. Make sure the View Result checkbox is checked
  5. Click Save

After saving the document will automatically open in Adobe Acrobat DC.

Note: If you do not have Adobe Acrobat DC the file will open in Adobe Reader DC. In order to check the accessibility of your document you will need Acrobat DC which is available from the college. Order using the online hardware/software ordering system or contact your department secretary.

Creating a pdf from a scan

Ideally you want to start with a high quality scan. The scanner should be set to scan at the minimum of 600 DPI (dots per inch) if possible and unless color is used to display meaning, the scan should be black and white.  It should be easy for everyone to read, including individuals with low vision or who use assistive technologies to read text electronically. High quality scans should be free from:

  • Text that is cut off
  • Crooked pages
  • Dark gutters (the margins where shadows occur from curvature in the book’s spine
  • Poor contrast
  • Pages that are rotated 90 or 180 degrees
  • Handwriting
  • Highlighting
  • Underlining
  • Watermarks/coffee stains
  • Poor contrast
  • Excessive use of script or italic fonts
  • Blurry

Making a PDF Accessible

Even if your document has no accessibility issues in Microsoft or you have followed all the best practices for scanning a document, you still should run the Accessibility Checker in Adobe Pro DC to make sure that the document is accessible as a pdf.

The Adobe Acrobat Pro DC Accessibility Checker

The Accessibility Checker tool is found on the Tools tab in the Protect & Standardize section. Select the Add button to add the tool to your toolbar.


If you have a pdf that was created from a Microsoft program or from a web page, you can now select the Accessibility tool, and from the full menu choose Full Check. If your pdf is from a scan please see the next page for information.

Then in the dialog box that open choose Start Checking.


Scanned Documents

A scan is simply a picture of a document, therefore, before running the accessibility check on a scanned document you will need to check the document to make sure that the pdf reader is recognizing the text and not simply seeing one large picture.

First, open the scanned pdf in Acrobat Pro DC and click anywhere in the scan. If one large blue square is shown then Acrobat is not recognizing the text in the document. So next:

  1. From the toolbar on the right side of your screen choose Enhance Scans
  2. In the Enhance Scans toolbar at the top of your page select Recognize Text > In This File
  3. A new toolbar will open, choose the number of  pages, the language and Recognize Text

Enhance scans

When clicking anywhere in the document, now you should get a cursor at the location you selected instead of a large blue square. This means that text is being recognized and you can run the Accessibility check.

  1. Now, close the Enhance Scans toolbar
  2. Select Accessibility from Tools tab in the Protect & Standardize section (to put the tool on the shortcut toolbar choose Add)
  3. Choose Full Check from the Accessibility menu
  4. In the dialog box that opens select Start Checking

Accessibility Checker Results

The results of the Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Check will be shown on the left side of your screen. Any heading without issues listed is fine, any heading that shows issues should be opened and fixed.


When the Accessibility Checker results are presented, any heading that shows there are issues should be opened and the issues fixed.

It is important to always start from the top of the list as fixing some of these larger issues may also fix the issues below.

3 common issues

Even if your document has no issues according to the Microsoft Accessibility Checker, there are three common issues that are flagged by the Adobe Accessibility Checker

They are 1) checking the Logical Reading Order, 2) adding a Title, and 3) checking the color contrast.

3 common issues

When remediating ANY problem start by right clicking on the line where the issue is written. You will receive a drop down menu that shows all your options.


Right clicking on the Title - Failed line produces this dropdown:


Choose the Fix option and either the title is automatically fixed or a dialog box opens where you can enter a title:

Uncheck the Leave As Is box in the Title area and enter a Title for the document.


Note: Many people ask "Isn't this just the file name?" Well, it can be, however, some people may prefer to file their documents differently, i.e., Filename: May 2019 Research, Title: The Effects of Extended Screen Time of Toddlers.

Color Contrast

A document that is black and white will have sufficient color contrast and you can right click on the item and choose Pass from the dropdown. However, if text is a different color or colored headings have text printed on them, the color contrast will need to be checked using a color contrast checker:




Logical Reading Order

Please review this document for information on checking the Logical Reading Order 

2020-03-02 15:18:25.491 - CTS

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