student in media lab

Accessible PDFs: Examples

Here are some examples of what we mean, in order of accessibility from worst to best.

Exhibit A: Unusable

This is an improperly rotated, poor-quality scan of a scribbled-on book. This will be unusable.

an improperly rotated, poor-quality scan of a scribbled-on book

If your PDF looks like this: please rotate it and/or find a cleaner version.

Exhibit B: Pretty Bad

This same article has been rotated. The problems are that it has margin notes and has been marked up. See video below for how difficult it is for a text-to-speech program to read the text.


a scribbled on, marked-up pdf


If your PDF looks like this, please find a cleaner version.

Exhibit C: Better, and Perfectly Usable

A better-quality scan of a clean copy of a book that has each individual book page as its own page in the document. This is much easier to work with and should have a good chance at decent text recognition.


a cleaner pdf


If your PDF looks like this: you are in good shape.

Exhibit D: Ideal

The holy grail, which is a born-digital verison of the reading. This will have near-flawless text recognition and will be easily navigable by the student.
a clean, born-digital PDF
If your PDF looks like this, it's perfect.

See how Kurzweil, a text-to-speech program, interacts with these PDFs!

Stay In Touch
With Technology for Teaching and Learning
Snail Mail
Technology for Teaching and Learning
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002
Phone + Email
413.559.6238
akinney@hampshire.edu