Accessing PDFs on an iPad with VoiceOver?

Our visually impaired students in our school district are mostly using iPads with Braille Displays and VO, and we continually struggle with giving our student's access to PDFs. We are a Google district, so sometimes we can open shared documents in google docs and work with them that way. Some teachers just email handouts to students, or give them a worksheet on the spot. Can you recommend any VO compatible apps that could help us work with PDFs? 



Posted by Diane BraunerSep 15, 2017

PDFs are typically not accessible with screen. If at all possible, ask the teacher (if he/she is making his/her own PDFs) to save and send the document as a Word document and not as a PDF, as Word is accessible. I also highly recommend worksheets with questions be sent as a Google Form. These questions are accessible for all students who are using any kind of device. Here is a post about Google Forms.  I understand that teachers often prefer PDFs, as the student cannot edit or make changes to the document; however, if the document is intended to be a homework assignment that requires the student to place his/her answers on the document, a PDF is not accessible to anyone who is using technology (tablet or computer) to complete the homework.

There are a number of OCR apps that will “scan” a print document and then you can read the text with a screen reader. These work well, but like any OCR, there is always the possibility of mistakes. The most popular OCR scanner for a person who is visually impaired is KNFB Reader; however, that is also the most expensive. There are a number of low cost OCR scanner apps such as Text Detective, PrizmoText Grabber, Adobe, Abby Fine Reader, etc. I really can’t recommend one of these over another, as I have not stayed up-to-date with each of them. Google Docs also has a built-in OCR scanner.

There are also portable scanners that are available; although, with better quality scanner apps, most people are moving towards using an app for on the go scanning.


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