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Instructions for creating Accessible Documents

If you are creating documents from Word, Powerpoint or Excel, we highly recommend the LinkedIn Learning course, Creating Accessibility Documents with Microsoft Office

For PDFs use Acrobat's built-in Action Wizard and choose "Make Accessible"

Web pages

Word Documents

Google Suite - use the Grackle plugin

Instructions for Improving the Accessibility of an Existing PDF

Use SensusAccess

SensusAccess is an online service that converts text and image-based documents into different accessible formats (searchable PDFs, audio, Braille, or e-text). It is available to all Swarthmore staff, students, and faculty with a Swarthmore College email address.

The quality of the converted document is highly dependant on the quality of the original document. For example, a clearly structured Word document will yield a better result than a poorly scanned PDF.

To begin converting a document, go to the SensusAccess page, upload a file, and select the appropriate format.

Note: You do not have to be on campus to take advantage of this service

Use Acrobat

PDFs are notoriously difficult to make fully accessible, however, you can make improvements by using Acrobat's built-in Action Wizard and choosing "Make Accessible".

Take advantage of our librarians

Our librarians are well versed in finding accessible content and can be very useful resources. Visit the library's research support page for more information

Use the power of the internet

Another option to fixing an existing PDF is to use a web link to an HTML version of the document.  Generally, HTML is one of the most accessible document formats. 

Instructions of Office Suite or Google Suite documents

For Office Suite documents such as those created with Word, Powerpoint or Excel, we highly recommend the LinkedIn Learning course, Creating Accessibility Documents with Microsoft Office.

  • All Office Suite documents have an Accessibility Checker built-in

For Google Suite documents, such as Docs, Sheets, or Slides, take advantage of the Grackle plugin

A note about presentations.  Google Slides and Microsoft Powerpoint use text boxes to help create presentations.  Text to speech software generally can not interact with the content contained within text boxes.  If you have a student who is dependent on text to speech technology, you may want to consider a different option for presentations.  Microsoft's Office 365 (free for the Swarthmore community) contains an application called "SWAY".  Sway creates HTML presentations.  It can import existing Powerpoints or Slides and if a person cannot access the online version of the presentation, SWAY can export slide content into an accessibile Word document