Two months ago, we jumped into the deep end of a temporary state that is quickly becoming the new normal. Fortunately, working remotely was not a big adjustment for me since we have a culture of working and training remotely at TCSAccess.  However, my kids and their school district faced a big paradigm shift. By and large my kids’ transition to distance learning was smooth. I would even say my visually impaired kids gained greater access to curriculum, as all information was being delivered electronically and my kids can easily access digital content using Assistive Technology.

There was one exception.  My son’s elementary school had a plan for homework submission: they asked students to “scan” documents using the Chromebook’s camera.  This is a creative solution for an unforeseeable situation.  Unfortunately, the solution presents barriers for the visually impaired student.  As demonstrated in the above photograph, using a laptop camera to “scan” a large-print workbook is challenging.  One must maneuver the document into the camera’s field and review the “scanned” copy to ensure it was complete.  This solution is neither fully accessible or efficient.  It assumes sufficient dexterity and vision to manipulate large documents and to verify successful submission. The reality is an editable pdf would be much more efficient and accessible to all.

As I pondered this crazy solution, I was once again reminded, accessible solutions not only allow access for all, they are just good business or in this case, good education. Thursday, May 21, 2020 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. For me, my family and TCSAccess, accessibility awareness day is every day. But for many, accessibility is not at the forefront of their work. Take some time to look at the Global Accessibility Awareness Day website and think about your work. Is your work truly accessible to all? If it is not, we can help.

While we can help you with custom access solutions, the following tips are useful when you have a PDF that is a scanned image or one you would prefer to read in Word, when words are reading together and configuring Chrome so PDFs always open in Adobe Acrobat Reader. 

Sending PDF Files to Word – Adding Word Shortcut to SendTo Folder

PDFs that are images are not readable to a screen reader user and not searchable for the general public.  The following two techniques illustrate how to open a scanned PDF in Word or Google Docs.

Opening PDFs in Word is possible using the Send To feature when the app key is pressed on the PDF file.  The following should be setup in advance to facilitate the use of this feature.

  1. Open Run dialog with Windows+R
  2. Type Shell:SendTo and Press Enter to open the SendTo folder in File Explorer
    Next, we will copy and paste the Word application shortcut into the SendTo folder
  3. Press Windows Key and type Word
  4. Press App key and down arrow to Open File Location
  5. When Word shortcut is highlighted, press Control+C to copy
  6. Press Control+V to paste the Word shortcut inside the SendTo folder
  7. When you want to convert a PDF to Word, press app key on PDF and select Send To Word

Note: a Microsoft Word dialog box will appear stating that the conversion of the PDF may not be exact

  1. Word will open with PDF text
    Note: more information from Microsoft about opening PDFs in Word can be found in the following link Opening PDFs in Word

Convert Scanned PDFs to Text Using Google Drive and Google Docs

  1.  Note: recognition errors may occur based on image quality

PDF Troubleshooting – Words Reading Together

If words are reading together when reading PDF with JAWS e.g. thequickbrownfox then change reading options in Adobe Reader as follows:

  1. Press Alt+E for Edit
  2. Press Y for Accessibility
  3. Press Enter on Change Reading Options
  4. Change from Infer Reading Order from Document (recommended) to Left to Right, Top to Bottom reading order and re-read document

Chrome Setting so PDF Always Opens in Acrobat Reader

  1. Press Alt key to Chrome button menu
  2. Press Spacebar to open menu
  3. Press S for Settings
  4. Navigate to PDF using the following path:
    1. Advanced
    2. Privacy and Security
    3. Site Settings
    4. PDF Documents
  5. Press Spacebar to set Download PDF files instead of opening them in Chrome to toggle button pressed state