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FLEET LIBRARY | Research Guides

Rhode Island School of Design

Accessibility in the Library

Some PDFs are not accessible because the basic format is an image. There are at least two ways to make a PDF accessible with text recognition technology (sometimes called optical character recognition). 

  1. Scan printed material using a tool that can recognize text and create a searchable PDF.
  2. Run a non-accessible PDF through a text-recognition tool.

Here are some very basic instructions for both methods. Please keep in mind these guidelines for accessibility:

  • Many students use screen readers so having materials uploaded in PDF format with limited images is ideal. (PDF file format accessibility
  • Never post a scanned file that does not have selectable text (try highlighting a word to check this). These are images; screen readers can't access them.
  • Ensure that Word files are created with embedded structure before they are posted on the Web or converted to PDF.

1. Use the library's Bookeye scanner to create accessible PDFs in few simple steps.

  • Place your text face-up on the scanner bed.
  • Scan the pages you need using the scanner software (ask staff for help if needed). 
  • When saving, select "More Options," then "Searchable PDF" before emailing or downloading the file. 

Book scanner interface with "More Options" button circled. .         Book scanner interface with "Searchable PDF" button circled.


2. Use Adobe Acrobat to apply text recognition to a PDF. 

  • RISD community members have access to Adobe Acrobat through campus subscriptions. 
  • Open the PDF in Acrobat. From the Tools menu, choose "Scan & OCR."Adobe Acrobat Scan & OCR icon
  • Select "Recognize Text" and choose "In this file." Set your options and click "Recognize Text."
  • If the scanned document is warped or low-quality, some correction may be necessary. We recommend re-scanning the original using method #1 (above) if possible. Please ask us or DSS for assistance if needed!