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Accessible Online Library Resources: Adobe Reader and Acrobat

This guide points to online services and resources at The Wallace Library.
Last Updated: Aug 21, 2022 1:56 PM

Adobe Reader and Acrobat

Adapted from ADA Guidelines for PDFs

Often library databases provide articles and e-books that are available in PDF format. Here are the features that Adobe Acrobat provides to make those PDFs accessible. Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat have a read-aloud feature. This allows PDFs that are ADA accessible to read out loud. Accessibility in a PDF document enables users with disabilities, such as blindness, low vision, and mobility impairment, to read, listen to, and interact with your document content with or without the aid of assistive technology.

NOTE: It is best to use Adobe in conjunction with your assistive technology screen reader software.

The instructions below are intended for machines that do not have assistive technology installed on them. If you have opened a PDF document within Adobe Reader, follow these steps.

To activate the read-aloud feature:

In Windows OS:

  • open the PDF

go to the View option at the top of the screen and select Read Out Loud and then scroll down to the last option listed called, Activate Read Out Loud

  • click on the screen to begin reading

To pause, select a specific section, or read to the end of the document, select view, the readout loud option, and then the appropriate option (pause, etc.)

In Mac OS:

  • open the PDF
  • go to the Edit option at the top of the screen and select Speech and then select the option, Start Speaking
  • reader will start automatically

To stop, select Edit at the top of the screen, then select Speech, and last select the option, Stop Speaking

Making PDFs Accessible

Adapted from ADA Guidelines for PDFs

When creating a PDF file make sure the file has been created with OCR (optical character recognition). The OCR element allows screen reader software like JAWS or even Adobe Reader, to read PDFs. 

Most recent PDFs from library resources are already created in this format. If you are unsure about a specific file you find in a database, you can highlight the text and paste it into another document. If you are able to copy and paste from within it, it has been OCR'd.

If you have someone create your PDF files, make sure they have the OCR option set in the creation process. 

Also, remember to limit the file size when you are creating a file. Scan documents at a lower resolution, and check the option for Reduced-Size PDF in Acrobat. For previously scanned items, open the file in Adobe Acrobat DC, then select File, Save As Other, and Reduced Size PDF.

Creating a Readable PDF (OCR)

Adapted from ADA Guidelines for PDFs

These are instructions for Windows PCs in the library.

1. From the Programs menu start Adobe Acrobat DC.

2. Open the PDF file that you would like to have readable. 

3. On the top left choose Tools, and then choose Enhance Scans.

4, From the Enhance Scans menu, choose "Recognize Text".

5. Choose "In this file" or you can also do "In multiple files".

6. Once the OCR process has finished save the file and replace the original file.

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Please contact your librarian with any questions.

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