Making PDF Files Accessible

Making PDF Files Accessible

Can I see a raise of hands of how many of us wanted to scream at inaccessible PDF files? I see 100% of our hands on the site.
For those of you who are not sure what PDF files are, they are files you open and JAWS says "no text found" or "blank". They are image files of text. In general, sighted people do not know this. All they see is the text. When I open one, I see a picture of words and then it is my quest to put it into text for talking software to read.

Yesterday, some of my most gifted Protechs-who used to be paras but have gained that training that has made them highly skilled, came to my place. I love it when people can come to my home as I have many tools of the trade that people can immediately see and use to their benefit. One of the main topics was how to access those PDF files. Most books come electronically or downloaded from the Internet, but they are in PDF format. They had been putting these through a scanner to process them into text, which was taking vast hours and one Protech was assigned to the task because of the quantity of students they have.

With a big smile, I said. let me show you something faster that will save you hours. I had one of those inaccessible PDF files sitting on my desktop from a teacher's email the day before. It was in Spanish however, which makes the scenario even worse. With a quick START KEY+M to access my desktop then an A (first letter of the icon I was going to) to access the PDF file, I hit that applications key (see lesson on this key in blog) and down arrow to open with, right arrow and down arrow to choose default program (now once you have your options in this menu, you can automatically go to it and if you arrow around you will see other programs there, most likely Adobe or other PDF programs) Once I open the dialog box, I go to browse and pick the program Openbook–Kurzweil will do this also. I hit enter a couple of times to confirm everything and the PDF file is immediately opened into Openbook.

I turn around from my desk and all mouths are open then a huge burst of smiles. I LOVE that! Making life easier for someone! They all immediately got the vast hours of time that would be saved using this method and couldn't wait to get back to school to tell the others.

In another method that will open many otherwise inaccessible PDF files is a Gmail email account. I send these PDF files to my Gmail as an attachment. When I open it, bring up links, I hit v for view and open a view of it in the internet. Once this is open, you can go to view option and view it as an HTML document. VIOLA, within seconds you have text that Jaws will read. VERY VERY fast…and free.

Of course, you always have the options of buying a PDF file converter. That lesson is for another time.

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