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Document Accessibility

These guides and videos provide steps to help you spot inaccessible documents, create accessible documents, scan documents, and repair inaccessible documents. For the best acccessibility practices regarding the creation of new documents, please check out our Creating Accessible Documents Guide.

To Learn more Join us for a Document Accessibility Workshop. Our schedule can be found on our Events and Workshops area. 

if you have a question that is not answered below, please contact the Instructional Accessibility Group via email at

Microsoft Office Lens is an app that enabled users to take pictures of forms, whiteboards, business cards, and other documents. Its scan feature can be used in place of more traditional scanners, and provides an impressive Optical Character Recognition Function.

  1. Download Office Lens to your phone or tablet.
    1. Office Lens is available on Android, Apple, and Windows devices.
  2. Open Office Lens and permit it access to your photos and camera.
  3. Select the appropriate material that is being scanned on the bottom of the app, i.e. Document, Whiteboardetc.
  4. Line up the document on the screen, and wait for an orange box to appear around the intended object.
  5. Press the White button on the bottom of the screen to take a picture.
  6. Office Lens will present a brightened more contrasted version of the image and two buttons on the bottom; a check icon and another camera icon.
    1. Click the camera icon to take additional pictures to be added to the same file. This is recommended for book chapters and PDFs
    2. Click the check to complete the image capture.
  7. Select which file format in which to export the images.
    1. The recommended method is select PDF and click save.
    2. Additional file types can be used once signed into Office Lens.
  8. After saving the PDF, Office Lens will take you to a location named My Files. Press and hold on the file you mean to send.
  9. Press the share icon on the top left to share the file.

Checking the accessibility of PDF documents is integral to ensuring full course accessibility for our students. There are many ways to determine the accessibility of PDF documents; the easiest and most effective method is using Adobe Acrobat Pro. Adobe Pro is a PDF creation, editing, and verification software. Metropolitan State University of Denver provides access to Adobe Pro through the ITS department


  1. Check your system for Adobe Acrobat Pro with one of the following steps:
    • PC (Windows): Type “Adobe Acrobat” in the bar in the bottom-left corner.
    • Mac (macOS): Open Finder (a blue and white face in the bottom left corner.). Click Applications. Type “Adobe Acrobat” in the search bar in the upper-right corner of the Finder Window.
      • If it is not present, install it from the Software Center. For more assistance on installing software contact the ITS department.
  2. Open the document in Adobe Acrobat Pro
  3. Click anywhere on the text in the document to highlight a word or sentence. If the text cannot be highlighted move to the next step (documents with text that cannot be selected are inaccessible because they are images to Adobe Acrobat):
    • Note: Being able to highlight the text in the document is a good indicator of its accessibility; selectable text indicates a document is generally accessible because the program can read the words.
  4. Raise your volume so you can hear Adobe attempt to read the document.
  5. Select the View from the menu bar and hover over Read Out Loud.
  6. Select Read to End of Document
    • If the document is accessible, Adobe Pro will begin to read the document left-to-right out loud. 
    • If the document is inaccessible, Adobe will respond with the verbal phrase
      “Warning, Empty Page” 

Through reviewing these steps, you will be able to determine the accessibility of your PDF files, no matter their origin.

PDF documents are a common fixture in both academic and professional settings. They enable the sharing of fixed documents across a large audience, but they are often not accessible. The following steps outline the process of making a PDF accessible. 

  1. Open a PDF document in Adobe Pro.
  2. Select ‘Edit PDF’ in the sidebar.
  3. Scroll through the document page-by-page to initiate Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on each page.
    • Note: As you scroll the document review the OCR results on the page. Ensure they are correct and coherent. Acrobat will fix orientation issues automatically.
  4. Delete needless or distracting items like highlights and other artifacts.
  5. Edit any incorrect material like incomplete recognition or limited visibility.
  6. Create labels and titles to go with chapters and sections using the Reading Order in the Accessibility Tool.
  7. Click on the File tab and hover over Save As
  8. Select Archivable PDF/A
  9. Select your destination.
  10. Click Save.

Now, a screen reader such as the Adobe Reader Read function, Read and Write, and JAWS can access your file.

The reading order provides a roadmap for students and notes key points of the document with appropriate labels like headers, figures, and tables, this allows screen readers navigate a document more efficiently. The computer can infer the order, but it can make mistakes or have misunderstandings about content. The reading order must be accurate to ensure the document is clear regardless of the user’s ability level. The following steps explain how to adjust the reading order of a PDF.

  1. Open the document in Adobe Acrobat.
  2. Click Edit PDF on the right-hand side of the screen.
    • This will prompt a review of the file by Optical Character Recognition Software, which will identify text, tables, and images in the document.
    • Once this operation is complete, review and correct the document to ensure full accessibility of the text.
  3. Click Tools in the upper-left corner.
  4. Click the Accessibility option at the bottom of the menu; this will bring up an additional menu on the right side of your document.
  5. Click Reading Order from the Accessibility Menu
  6. Click and drag your mouse to create a box around a specific area of content,
  7. Click the appropriate button to set type of text.
    • Remember: Using the Headings, Paragraphs, and Figure designations provides a clear roadmap to the document.
  8. Once the content has been given designations, click the Show Order Panel button on the ‘Reading Order’ menu; this will open a menu on the left with the current reading order displayed.
  9. Drag and drop the name of the content into the appropriate place, to change its location in the reading order.
  10. Save the PDF as a PDF/A.

  1. Open a completed Microsoft Word document.
  2. Click File tab and select Save As.
  3. Select the location you want to save your file (i.e. Desktop, Documents folder, or other location)
  4. Select PDF from the Save as Type drop-down menu.
  5. Select the button next to ‘Best for electronic distribution and accessibility’
  6. Click Export

  1. Open a completed Microsoft Word document.
  2. Select ‘Save As’ in the file tab.
  3. Select the location you want your file to be saved at, i.e.: Desktop, Documents folder
  4. Select ‘PDF’ from the ‘Save as Type’ Drop down menu.
  5. Click the Options button below the drop down menu.
  6. Check the box next to the ‘ISO 19005-1 Compliant (PDF/A)’ and press OK.
  7. Save your file. Now your file can be accessed by a screen reader such as Adobe Reader’s Reader function.

 The following steps outline the process of making an accessible HTML document. 

  1. Open a PDF document in Adobe Acrobat Pro.
  2. Select Edit PDF’ in the sidebar. This will open the PDF with a different toolbar.
  3. Scroll through the document page-by-page to initiate Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on each page.
  4. Review the OCR results on the page. Ensure they are correct and coherent.
  5. Edit any incorrect material like incomplete recognition or limited visibility.
  6. Create labels and titles to go with chapters and sections.
  7. Click on the ‘Edit PDF’ icon to bring up a dropdown menu, selectExport PDF
  8. A page with the title: ‘Export your PDF to any format’ will appear; from this list select HTML Web Page.
  9. Select ‘Single HTML Page’.
  10. Click both boxes under the ‘Add Navigation Frame’ Header.
  11. Click 'Export’ on the bottom of the page
  12. Select a save location.
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