Scanned Documents UPDATED
You should avoid using documents that have been scanned if at all possible. A scanned
document is actually one large image per page and a screen reader will see this as a blank
page. Scanned documents are not accessible to screen readers without additional work that is
To determine if a document is scanned, try to select some text using the Select Tool.
» Menu: Tools > Select & Zoom > Select Tool
Look at your cursor. If your cursor looks like a “cross-hairs” (+), rather than an “I-beam” (I), you
are working with a scanned document. This will present an accessibility challenge and result in a
much bigger file size. A large file size can also be a barrier for website visitors with dialup
What to Do with a Scanned Image
The first step for turning scanned documents into actual text is to go through an Optical
Character Recognition (OCR) process, which turns the images of words into actual text on a
To make a scanned document accessible, you must convert the image of the document into
"real" text. That is, the text must be selectable and scalable. This is usually done through
OCR (Optical Character Recognition). If the PDF version is also to be your accessible
version, you'll need to add additional accessibility mark-up – adding "tags" to your PDF,
adding alternative text for images, graphs, and charts, and adding header information to data
tables. In addition, text created from a scanned image of a document is often converted into
unexpected segments and these segments may be out-of-order in terms of the expected
read-order of the document. You'll need to perform several checks to insure correct read-
order is established, once your document is converted.
In order to insure your document is accessible to users of assistive technology, you'll need to
edit the PDF document. In Adobe Acrobat version nine:
1. When first opening a scanned or legacy PDF, the “Scanned Page Alert” pop-up window
may appear. Select OK. If it does not appear, manually enable OCR from the Acrobat
menu. Select Documents >Recognize Text using OCR>Start.
2. From the Recognize Text pop-up window click the Edit button to access the Recognize
3. Set the Primary OCR Language combo box to the language used in the PDF.
4. Set the PDF Output Style combo box to “Formatted Text & Graphics”.
5. Set the Down sample Image combo box to “Lowest (600 dpi).
6. Click OK to return to the Recognize Text pop-up window.
7. From the Recognize Text window, make sure the “All pages” radio button is selected and
then click the OK button to perform OCR.
8. Add descriptive tags for non-text elements: graphs, charts, images.
9. Add accessible mark-up for tables.
10. Verify the read-order of the document.
11. As Acrobat performs its OCR process, it creates a list of "suspect" words and characters
that could not be clearly identified.
In Adobe Acrobat version 10 and 11:
1. In the Tools window on the right, open the Text Recognition tab.
2. Choose “In this file” to recognize the scanned image.
3. You can choose to search single or multiple pages.
4. Under Edit set the language, PDF output style, and down sample size. The smaller the
down sample size the smaller the file size, but the document won’t be as sharp.
Fix OCR Suspects (text that was not recognized properly)
As Acrobat performs its OCR process, it creates a list of "suspect" words and characters that
could not be clearly identified. You can see all the suspect items at once: from the DOCUMENT
menu, choose PAPER
and FIND ALL OCR SUSPECTS. Acrobat highlights all the
suspect items in the document.
You must address each OCR suspect. Any OCR suspect that you ignore will not be converted
into readable text and will be ignored by screen readers.
Walk through the OCR suspects one by one Acrobat 9:
1. From the DOCUMENT menu, choose PAPER CAPTURE, and FIND FIRST OCR
2. The FIND ELEMENT dialog box appears showing the first "suspect" set of characters.
3. If the suspect characters are text, you'll be able to edit them in the dialog box. Otherwise,
retype the correct text characters directly in the document using advanced editing
techniques in Acrobat.
4. Once you have corrected the suspect, choose "Accept and Find" to go to the next
5. When you have corrected all suspect items, save your document.
To edit or delete text that was not recognized correctly:
1. Select Tools - Advanced Editing - Touchup Text Tool.
2. Left click on document and correct the OCR mistakes.
3. To turn off the Touchup Text Tool, activate the Hand tool located on the Acrobat toolbar.
Walk through the OCR suspects one by one Acrobat 10 and 11:
1. Under Text Recognition in the tools panel select OCR Suspects, either one at a time
or all at once.
2. To fix any OCR suspects open the Touch Up Reading Order tool box under the
Accessibility Tab. Click on each suspect and apply the correct format.
Verifying Your Document Text
After you have performed OCR and addressed all the suspect characters, you can do a quick
check to insure that the text of your document is available to screen readers: Save as text
1. From the FILE
menu, choose "SAVE AS."
2. In the "SAVE AS" dialog box, change the "SAVE AS TYPE" to "Text (Accessible) (*.txt)."
3. Click SAVE. Adobe converts your document to a plain text file using the same text that
would be accessible to assistive technology, including alternative text for images and
4. Open your newly saved text version in Adobe. Compare the text in the plain text version
to the text in the PDF version – are they the same? If not, edit the text and/or edit the tags
in the PDF version and re-save as "Text (Accessible)" to check again.
Adding Tags to Your Document
Once you are certain that the necessary text is available on the document, you can add tags to
your document. Adding tags creates a duplicate of your document that is marked-up for
accessibility. Only the very latest assistive technology can read an untagged PDF. Plus,
untagged PDF cannot be reflowed to fit available screen size and cannot contain additional
information, such as alternative text for images. Thus, only a tagged PDF can be considered
You can use Acrobat's automated feature to add tags to your document:
1. From the ADVANCED
menu, choose ACCESSIBILITY (version 9), Tools Panel
Accesibility Tab (version 10 & 11) and "ADD TAGS TO DOCUMENT".
2. Acrobat generates a tagged version of your document that can only be viewed in the tags
window. To open the tags window:
a. From the VIEW
menu, choose NAVIGATION
and TAGS (version 9).
Open the Tags Panel in the left toolbar (version 10 & 11).
b. Use the asterisk (*) key on the Number Key Pad to open all tag levels.
c. Use the minus (-) key on the Number Key Pad to close all tag levels.
3. Check tags for accuracy, completeness, and read-order.
Checking Your Document for Accessibility
After adding tags, you can do a few quick-checks to insure your document will work well with
assistive technology. You can also use these techniques at any point in your conversion process
to check the accessibility of your document.
Highlighting content is a simple method to confirm:
1. Text is readable by a screen reader. Text that cannot be highlighted/selected is likely to
be skipped or ignored by screen readers. Perform another OCR and confirm that
deselected text is not a "suspect character".
2. Read-order of the document. The order that text is highlighted/selected is also the order
the text will be read by a screen reader. Pay particular attention to text in tables or
columns. Does the text in one cell bleed into the text in another? Can you select all of one
column and then all of the next? Read-order can be changed by rearranging the tags.
Document reflow assists users who enlarge the text or who are using small screens or
resolutions, by reformatting the document to fit in the available screen. Without reflow, users may
be forced to scroll widely horizontal as well as vertically.
To check for reflow:
1. Increase the text size to 300% or greater.
2. From the
REFLOW (version 9). View>Zoom>REFLOW (version 10 &
Note that how a document reflows also depends on read-order.
The best way to check a document's accessibility is to use the same assistive technology
your users will use to access the document. However, if you don't have access to a screen
reader or screen enlarger, you can still get a sense of how those technologies will interpret
your document by listening to it being read by Acrobat's "Read Out Loud" feature. Although
not practical for lengthy documents, such as dissertation chapters or articles, this is a good
strategy for shorter documents that will receive high circulation on your web site or will be
required reading for your users.
To read out loud:
From the VIEW
menu, choose READ OUT LOUD.
a. Press SHIFT + CNTRL + Y to quickly read the current page.
b. Press SHIFT + CNTRL + B
to read the entire document.
2. To stop reading: go to the VIEW menu, READ OUT LOUD, and choose STOP or
press SHIFT + CNTRL + E.
For longer documents, you may want to narrow your reading to only a few key pages: in
particular, those pages that contain graphics, tables, columns, or text boxes.
However, if your document is not reading correctly, see “Check Reading Order” under Tips
and Tricks on Correcting Errors in a PDF file.
1. Forms must be created in Adobe Acrobat. Form fields will not convert from MS Word to
2. Open the document in Adobe Acrobat Professional as you would normally.
3. Select Edit from the Forms Sub Menu on the right of the document.
4. Depending on the form, Adobe will ask to detect form fields for you. Click Yes. Adobe
Acrobat will tag and label each form field that it detects.
5. Go through your document to make sure all form fields were detected.
6. On each form field, right-click and select Properties. Verify that there is a description in
the “Name” area, and the same description in the “Tooltips” area. Fields will not work
If a field is missing, create one by:
1. With the Form Menu open, click “Add New Field” and select the appropriate item (text
field, check box, radio button, etc.).
2. Place the crosshairs at the insertion point, and hold down the mouse button while
3. Apply the appropriate Field Name.
4. Right-click to open the Properties dialog box and add a “Tooltip” description.
Fixing Reading Order in Forms:
If you had to add any new fields, then the reading order may be wrong. To fix:
1. With the Form Menu open, click the Tab Order arrow and in the drop down menu select
Show Tab Numbers.
2. The info box that pops up is simply telling you to sort by tab order manually and you will
do that next, so click OK.
3. Numbers should now be seen in each field. This is the order in which the fields will be
read. If there are any numbers out of order on the screen go to the Tabs Oder again and
select Order Tabs Manually. The next info box is simply telling you that we cannot reorder
the fields between pages, so click OK.
Drag the tabs to the correct order.
Tips and Tricks on Correcting Errors in a PDF file UPDATED
Helpful Hint: Adobe Acrobat does not let you undo changes when fixing PDFs! Therefore, if you
are correcting a lot of errors, the best practice is to make a few changes at a time, do another
accessibility check – to make sure the changes worked – if they worked, save and then continue.
In the event the change caused more problems or didn’t work, do not save and revert back to the
last good save before moving on. You’ll avoid losing hours of work because of one faulty
Tables - Summaries Failed:
Summaries are required to pass the 508 Compliancy test. We have found no fix at this time to
make the summaries follow the tables from MS Word when converting to PDF. They must be
redone in the PDF file.
1. To correct this error in Adobe Acrobat Click Tools > Accessibility > Touchup Reading
2. Touchup Reading Order screen will appear. Click Close.
3. Right click on the table that was identified with no summary and select “Edit Table
4. Enter summary information.
Tables - Headers Failed:
1. To correct this error click Tools > Accessibility > Touchup Reading Order.
2. Touch up Reading Order screen will appear. Click Close.
3. Right click on the table that was identified with no head and select “Table Editor.”
4. You should now see a TD in each cell.
5. At this point you need to determine which ones are the header cells.
6. Click the cell where it says TD. Right click and select “Table Cell Properties.”
7. Change Data cell to Header cell.
8. Under SCOPE drop down choose appropriate tag (whether it’s the header for a column or
Regularity issues come in to play because you may have merged cells in a table. Tables must
contain the same number of columns in each row, and rows in each column – but there is a work
around to fix this issue.
The easiest way to fix this problem is to go back to your original document and fix it there.
To fix failed regularity using PDF tools:
After you perform a 508 compliancy check, click on the Tags icon. This will open up the tags
listing all sections, paragraphs, tables, etc. Tags indicate the structure of the document and
communicate the order in which the items should be read.
To Fix (example table):
1. Open the tags panel on left side of screen (looks like a little tag)
2. Locate the problem table and click the + symbol to open the string.
3. Open every Table Row (TR) and find the one with the highest number of TH or TD cells.
Note in example: there’s only one tag under the Table Header Merged cells area - there
should be three tags.
4. You need to change this by adding more TH or TD tags.
Figure 50 - Tags section displaying the table data and header cells
1. Start by going to Table Cell Properties and change the merged cell to a header cell,
a. Click on Tools.
b. Click on the Touch Up Reading Order.
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Figure 51 - Acrobat displaying the Touch up Reading Order icon
c. Once the Touch up Reading Order screen appears, click on Close (this action
merely highlights the items on the page for you).
d. Right click on the table and select Table Editor to show you the TH and TD cells
(See Figure 21 below.)
Figure 52 - Touch up Reading Order screen
d. Right Click on TD to select the Table Properties screen.
e. Change the merged cell (Table Header merged cells) to a header cell, scope:
Figure 53 - Table Cell Properties menu
f. Next change the cells labeled “Column Headers” to Header cells, scope: Column.
Figure 54 - Table Cell Properties menu showing column headers
g. If your table also has Header Rows change the cells labeled “Data Headers” to
Header cells, scope: Row.
Figure 55 - Table Cell Properties menu showing row headers
Add new tags to the table:
1. Open the Tags panel again and locate the problem table.
2. Open the first Table Row (TR) in the Tags panel.
3. Right click and select NEW TAG.
4. Set Type to Table Header Cell from the drop down menu and click OK.
Repeat step until number of TH tags match other Table Rows. All TR sections
should have the same number of tags.
Figure 56 - Tags on the left side of the page and the New Tag menu opened
Make sure new tags are nested under the Table Row and not the Table. You can drag to the
correct area if needed. For Table Rows with TH and TD tags (if you need to add more tags),
there should only be one TH…the rest can be TDs. Repeat New Tag steps and change Type to
“Table Data Cell” for TDs.
Figure 57 - Tags menu with correct tag structure
Your irregular table should now be fixed and read correctly.
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