Access PDFs With A Screen Reader Using Adobe Reader XI

Two hands in front of lit-up braille symbols on a black background

Source: Switch Gaming

Adobe has a PDF document on its website that explains how to access a PDF using its own Adobe Reader software and screen readers, for both Mac OS X and Windows.

Adobe® Reader® XI is free software you can use to read and access the information contained within PDF files. Adobe Reader XI contains many capabilities specifically designed to make it easier for people with disabilities to read PDF files, regardless of whether the files have been optimized for accessibility. It leverages accessibility functions built into Windows® and Mac OS systems and allows adjustment of user preferences to optimize the reading experience for a variety of disabilities.

The 27-page document covers PDF documents and accessibility, the accessibility features that Adobe Reader XI supports, how to use the Accessibility Setup Assistant, and saving an Adobe PDF document as text.

It also details how to navigate PDF documents using the keyboard (rather than the mouse), how to deal with image only PDF files, how to tag and untag documents, and dealing with electronic forms from an accessibility standpoint.

Finally, Adobe shares how to use Adobe Reader XI with JAWS and Window Eyes, two popular screen reading programs for Windows.

You can grab the whole PDF at the Adobe website.

Where To Get Accessible Digital Electronic Text

Let’s face it, there are too many resources out there for accessible textbooks, digital text, and the like. Which websites can you trust? Which are paid and which are free? Which sources are accessible, and which are not?

The Accessible Media section of the Center for Applied Special Education Technology (CAST) has a lot of resources, and one is a list of sites that provide digital electronic text that you can use to get the kids in your school reading again. Sites include American Printing House for the Blind, Accessible Book Collection, and Bookshare, plus a long list of other resources for you to click through and explore.

From aim.cast.org:

People with print disabilities may find the following references helpful as they attempt to locate sources of alternate format content. This page highlights accessible options for obtaining both digital electronic text and digital audio. Some resources focus specifically on serving individuals with print reading disabilities while others offer content more widely.

Simply Said: An Overview Of AIM [Video]

Here’s a short, under-four-minute video that explains the basics of accessible instructional materials (AIM) in plain english. Use this to help students, parents, teachers, and administrators understand the big picture of why students may need AIM, and what types of accommodations it can include.

The National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials and PACER Center are pleased to announce the release of our new video explaining Accessible Instructional Materials in easy to understand language. This fully-captioned video is designed to increase awareness of AIM. We invite you to view and share this video with your colleagues and the families you serve.

Humanware Study Finds Access To AIM Increases Reading Skills

A young girl student uses a HumanWare portable digital talking book player.“Non-readers can now experience what a fluent reader can; reading for pleasure. I can now teach critical reading skills, and teach students how to engage with text and truly comprehend it. The ClassMate Reader allows students to be independent. They can read, when and where they want, for the first time,” said reading specialist, Alison Gammage.

The study, conducted by Humanware, a vendor for hardware reading devices like the Classmate Reader, looked at 29 college bound kids with “severe language-based learning disabilities and/or ADHD” in grades 9 – 12 over a period of 24 weeks. They all were trained in how to use the Classmate reader, which presents digital text bi-modally, so they can listen to the text as well as see it highlighted as it is read by the text-to-Speech capabilities of the Classmate Reader.

The students involved began to realize that reading was more than just decoding, something none of them were very good at, and more about comprehending what they read. The initial hope of the researchers was that students would spend more time reading for pleasure than ever before, and the study indeed found that very fact: students in the program showed an increase in reading for pleasure, for longer periods of time, than ever before.

However, an unintended result was also discovered: the reading comprehension scores of these students, as measured by standard reading tests, shot way up.

It was clear that some students’ comprehension was affected by the inability to divide and switch attention between decoding individual words and processing the meaning of what was being read. Hearing the book, removed the need to use decoding skills at the same time as comprehending; this allowed the student to focus more working memory on higher order comprehension skills, influencing, cause and effect, predicting etc.

So, the next time you hear a teacher or administrator saying that letting kids with disabilities use technology like this to access the printed word, you can let them know that it is definitely NOT cheating, and it will indeed help the students raise their test scores.

Source: Humanware Newsletter

Online AIM Courses

FROM: http://aim.cast.org/experience/training/courses

Two online courses have been designed for educators, administrators, parents, and others involved in the provision and use of AIM in schools and at home. These facilitated courses have been developed in Moodle and are freely available to SEAs, LEAs, or other agencies to use for training purposes.
All sessions and activities of both AIM courses may be explored at—
http://teachweb.cast.org/moodle/.

To log in as a guest, use the following enrollment key: aimcast

Please contact aim@cast.org for more information.

AIM 101: Accessible Instructional Materials

AIM 101 Course Syllabus
AIM 101 is an online course designed for educators, administrators, related service personnel, and parents with a view to providing AIM to students in a timely manner. Each of ten course sessions includes a reading selection, an activity, questions for reflection, and associated resources and pre- and post-tests are provided for evaluation.

The Course will equip participants with an awareness of: the barriers presented by “traditional” print instructional materials; an understanding of the importance of flexible and accessible learning resources; pertinent Special Education and Civil Rights legislation; Copyright Law; national, state, and local systems of materials acquisition and classroom use.

AIM 102: Preparing Accessible Instructional Materials for Students with Print Impairments

AIM 102 Course Syllabus
AIM 102 is an online course designed for educators, administrators, and related service personnel with a view to understanding various types of instructional materials used in classrooms and tools, strategies, and training necessary to prepare and allow students with print disabilities to effectively use these materials. Each of ten course sessions includes a reading selection, an activity, questions for reflection, and associated resources.

This course is designed to acquaint elementary and secondary stakeholders with an understanding of how to prepare AIM for students with print impairments.

AIM Navigator Helps Decision Making

The AIM Navigator is an interactive online tool that facilitates the process of decision-making about accessible instructional materials for an individual student. The AIM Navigator guides teams through a step-by-step process and provides just-in-time support with Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), resources, and links to other helpful tools at each of four major decision-points.

Read more at the AIM CAST Website.

DAISY Book Converters

We’ve found a couple of software projects that support the conversion DAISY files (NIMAC) to a variety of formats.

DAISY Pipeline

DAISY Pipeline
http://www.daisy.org/project/pipeline

The DAISY Pipeline is a cross-platform, open source transformation utility, supporting conversion to and from a wide variety of file formats. It provides a comprehensive solution for converting text documents into accessible formats for people with print disabilities.

The DAISY Pipeline FAQ.

The TechAdapt Accessible Media Center (TAMC)
http://accessiblemediacenter.techadapt.com/index.html

Currently, TAMC can produce three different file types from NIMAS or DAISY input:

  • Rich Text Format (RTF) files, which can be opened by any of the thousands of applications or hardware devices that understand this file format. RTF has been used in conjunction with screen readers, software magnifiers and other devices for many years, and it remains one of the most widely-used file formats ever. These RTFs can be used in many different ways:
    • with existing braille transcription packages to allow NIMAS or DAISY input to be used in the braille transcription process. This may be important for those companies or agencies which choose not to upgrade their braille transcription software at this time.
    • as input to audio production tools such as NextUp’s TextAloud and NaturalSoft’s Natural Reader.
    • with existing hardware devices that can interpret RTF but may not yet support DAISY
    • with screen readers and software magnifiers
  • HTML, the popular file format understood by every Web browser. HTML-formatted books produced with TAMC include not only the content of the book, but navigation panes that allow users to easily find information by heading or page number. In addition, the background color and the font color and size of the content can be adjusted for maximum contrast and readability. TAMC’s HTML books require only a Web browser to read – no network connection or external software or plugins are required. Samples of the TAMC HTML output using the CAST NIMAS Exemplars can be found in our Samples section.
  • DAISY, the digital talking book standard in use by libraries and educational institutions around the world. DAISY’s strong navigation facilities and support for synchronized text and audio, combined with the features of DAISY reader software and hardware, can significantly facilitate the reading process for print-impaired individuals.

In the future, TAMC will be extended to allow the production of other media formats, such as audio and braille. Requests from our clients for other functionality are always welcome.