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Teaching Essentials


It really is best to avoid using PDFs unless you know for certain they are accessible. PDFs are difficult to work when they need to reformated (e.g. increase font size). Some PDFs are scans and do not contain text that can be read by a screen reader. These PDFs should not be used.

Testing and Fixing Issues

Many existing PDFs are not likely accessible and testing and fixing issues also requires expertise and Adobe Acrobat.

PDFs can be made accessible but require:

  • An accessible original document (e.g. Word document, PowerPoint presentation)
  • Access to Adobe Acrobat
  • Expertise in using the accessibility tools in Acrobat to test
  • Expertise to manually identify and fix issues
  • PDFs are difficult to work when they need to reformated (e.g. increase font size)


An alternative to providing a PDF is to copy and paste the content into a LEARN template. But it is not always possible to avoid using a PDF due to copyright issues or complex, multi-paged PDFs that have too much content to be copied into LEARN.

If you do use a PDF, be prepared to provide an alternative for students who may not be able to access the content in the PDF, such as providing a text based transcript of the content.

Who would be affected by an inaccessible PDF?

People who use screen reader software which speaks text out loud. This includes people who are blind, have low vision or a learning disability.