Skip to main content

Printing Reduction Strategies: Accessibility

This guide is dedicated to assisting in the reduction of printing on campus.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

OCR (optical character recognition) - Recognizing text in a pdf yields a number of benefits. Doing so de-skews the document, makes the text searchable, selectable, and readable by a screen reader (JAWS). It is only possible to recognize text in Adobe Acrobat Pro.

To recognize text in a PDF:

  1. Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro
  2. Click to open the Tools menu, then expand the Recognize Text drop-down area.
  3. Click the In This File button.
  4. Select all pages or a portion of the document and then click OK. If you receive a message that the document already has renderable text this means that the text is already selectable and searchable.
  5. Save your document.

Optimizing a PDF

Why should I optimize a PDF?

PDF optimization reduces file size, decreasing the amount of time the documents take to open and makes them easier to share.

  1. Open the PDF Optimizer dialog box (File > Save As > Optimized PDF).
  2. To use the default settings, choose Standard from the Settings menu, and then skip to step 6. If you change any settings in the PDF Optimizer dialog box, the Settings menu automatically switches to Custom.
  3. From the Make Compatible With menu, choose Retain Existing to keep the current PDF version, or choose an Acrobat version. (The options available in panels vary depending on this choice.)
  4. Select the check box next to a panel (for example, Images, Fonts, Transparency), and then select options in that panel. To prevent all of the options in a panel from executing during optimization, deselect the check box for that panel.
  5. (Optional) To save your customized settings, click the Save button and name the settings. (To delete a saved setting, choose it in the Settings menu and click Delete.)
  6. When you are finished selecting options, click OK.
  7. In the Save Optimized As dialog box, click Save to overwrite the original PDF with the optimized PDF, or select a new name or location.

Click here for a video tutorial on how to optimize a PDF.

Are Your Class Materials Accessible?

btyb: Learning Enrichment and Disability Services and the Instructional Technology Offices

Constructing the materials that are accessible prior to posting them, distributing them or using them will establish an environment that is inclusive to all students. The information below highlights different features that every faculty member can easily use to ensure that course materials are accessible to students with various disabilities, those students who use alternate strategies to improve their academic performance, and sometimes for students whose first language is something other than English.  If you have any questions or need assistance in checking the accessibility of your course content, please contact Jedidiah Rex, or x2456.

Microsoft Office 2013

For information on creating accessible documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with Microsoft Office 2010, go to: Microsoft Office for Mac relies upon the Accessibility tools built into Mac OS. To find out more you may visit:

Note: If a student in your class self-identifies as having dyslexia, ask if the “Opendyslexia” font is helpful for easier reading.  If so, download the font ( and print your materials using this font.  

Microsoft Office Word

Add alternate text description (alt text) for all images, charts, graphs, SmartArt, etc.
To do so:

  • Insert the image.
  • Right click on the image and then select, “Format Picture” from the context menu
  • Select the Alt Text section and then add a title and description for the image.
  • ​Use styles (i.e., heading tags) in long documents.
  • Use short titles for headings
  • Ensure heading styles are in the correct order (i.e., heading 1, heading, 2, etc.)
  • Use hyperlink text that is meaningful
    • e.g. Use ‘click here to go to the Beloit home page’ as opposed to ‘click here’
    • In Word for Mac edit the hyperlink and then add a “Screen Tip” This is the alt text for the link.
Microsoft Office Power Point
  • Add alternate text description (alt text, see above) for all images, charts, graphs, SmartArt, etc.
  • Ensure that all slides have unique titles
  • Use hyperlink text that is meaningful (see example under Microsoft Office Word).
  • Add text transcript in ‘Notes’ section for any audio or video used in slides
  • Ensure that audio and video files automatically play as soon as the user advances to the next slide.
Using the Microsoft Office 2010 Built-in Accessibility Checker (Windows only)

Accessibility Checker alerts you to accessibility issues, similar to a spell checker for misspelled words.
To access this feature for Office 2010 documents:

  1. Click on the File tab.
  2. Click Info.
  3. Under Prepare for Sharing, an alert will appear if Accessibility Checker has detected any potential accessibility issues.
  4. To view and repair the issues in your file, click on Check for Issues, and then click Check Accessibility.
  5. You are returned to your file where the Accessibility Checker task pane is open, showing the inspection results.
  6. Click on a specific issue to see Additional Information and steps you can take to fix or revise the content.
  • Add alternate text description (alt text) for all images, links, charts, graphs, etc.
  • Use hyperlink text that is meaningful (see example above under Microsoft Word).
  • Include closed captions for any video and a text transcript for any audio file.
  • For videos that need captioning, contact IT for assistance.
  • Use skip-navigation links to enable user to go directly to desire content.
  • Ensure that all logical headings use the HTML heading tags  (<h1>, <h2>, etc.).
  • Keyboard Access: use the keyboard exclusively to navigate through webpages and applications.  Are all areas of the screen accessible?  Are there keystrokes available for all mouse actions?  Are there a minimum number of keystrokes to get to the desired areas?
  • Font Size: Go to the View Menu and select Text Size/Largest to see if point sizes can be changed.  For internet Explorer It might be necessary to first go to Tools/Internet Options/Accessibility and uncheck the “Ignore Font” checkbox.
  • Color:  Change the colors by going to the Display Properties/Appearance and change to High Contrast Black or Write.  Again, for Internet Explorer, you may have to first go to Tools/Internet Options/Accessibility and uncheck the “Ignore Colors”. Secondly ensure that the color is not the only means of communicating a concept.
PDF Docs/Forms

To test your PDF documents for accessibility, complete the following steps (in Adobe Reader or Acrobat):

  • Click on the ‘View’ pull-down menu >Read Out Loud>Activate Read Out Loud, followed by the ‘View’ pull-down menu >Read Out Loud>This Page Only.

    • Must use Adobe Acrobat Pro. If the document reads aloud, but the text is read out of order, adding “tags” to the document may help.  In Adobe Acrobat, choose “Advanced”>Accessibility>Add Tags to Document. (This command adequately tags most standard layouts so text-to-speech software reads the PDF in the correct order, but cannot always correctly interpret the structure and reading order of complete page elements.)

    • Must use Adobe Acrobat Pro. If the document does not read aloud, it is likely that the document needs to be processed through OCR (Optical Character Recognition).
      To do so:
      1. Open the document in Acrobat Pro and select Tools
      2. Select Recognize Text > In This File.
      3. Indicate the pages you want to be OCR’ed, Click OK.
      4. Save the file.

Using Video in Your Course

To ensure equivalent access for students with hearing impairments, all videos must be captioned.  Many already come captioned, but it must be “turned on” when you show it to the class. If captioning does not exist, contact the IT office well in advance in order to get it captioned before you use it.  IT contracts an outside company for this service and will need 3 weeks between the request of the item to be transcribed and when it is needed.  Please contact IT Support (x2067, if you would like to request this service.

Films on Demand

Over 2,500 titles on instant videos in a variety of topics. All films have closed captions and transcripts available. 

Class Discussions - Including Diverse Learners 

If classroom discussions are an important aspect of your course, consider structuring them in a way that is inclusive. Information on this topic is available on the Moodle Groups course page “Accessible Pedagogies” or can be requested of Joy de Leon (