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Processing PDF: How to Go from PDF to E-text to Audio. Gaeir Dietrich Director High Tech Center Training Unit of the California Community Colleges Foothill Community College District. PDF from Publishers. Portable document format (PDF) Reads the same on any computer Looks like the book

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Processing pdf how to go from pdf to e text to audio

Processing PDF:How to Go from PDF toE-text to Audio

Gaeir Dietrich

DirectorHigh Tech Center Training Unitof the California Community CollegesFoothill Community College District

Pdf from publishers

PDF from Publishers

Portable document format (PDF)

Reads the same on any computer

Looks like the book

Smaller than TIFFs

Contains all the text

Always check to make sure the book is the right one!

Easy for publishers

Requesting through atn

Requesting through ATN

Access Text Network

Now free for requesting files from ATN-member publishers

Paid membership to exchange files

Not all publishers

But ATN does have the largest ones

Other resources at atn

Other Resources at ATN

  • Accessible Textbook Finder


  • Link to Publisher Lookup


    • Will have to contact non-ATN member publishers directly

Using publisher pdfs

Using Publisher PDFs

Sometimes students can use files directly

Often files will need further processing for student use

At the very least, large files may need to be broken into chapters

Pdf strengths

PDF Strengths

Good format for large print


Fit to page on large pages

Print sections on large pages (tiling)

Adobe Reader has some nice features

Change colors


Limited voicing

Works on both Mac and PC

Easy for most publishers to create

Pdf weaknesses

PDF Weaknesses

Not always fully accessible

Screen readers do not always like them—even when they are text-based

Reading order can be problematic

May be graphics (pictures of text)

May have too much security

As an aside

As an Aside…

  • When faculty create PDFs…

    • The PDF always started as something else…usually a Word file

    • Try to get the starting document if the student prefers audio

    • Security concerns?

      • Word files can be password protected

      • Button > Prepare > Encrypt

Types of pdf documents

Types of PDF Documents


Text can be selected


Picture of text (i.e., a graphic)

Text cannot be selected

Use text-select tool to tell the difference

Files may be “locked”

Processing pdfs

Processing PDFs

  • Adobe Acrobat Professional

    • Check on College Buys for discount

  • Good OCR program

    • Abbyy FineReader

    • Nuance OmniPage

  • IF you are a Kurzweil campus, you will also need Kurzweil

Adobe tools

Adobe Tools

Adobe Reader


Useful for students who need minimalaccessibility features

Adobe Acrobat Professional

Essential for alt media specialists

Extract text, create accessible PDFs, enabled Adobe Reader features Discounted Price

Acrobat reader

Acrobat Reader

Reads aloud

But does not highlight or track

Enlarges text

Nice reflow feature

Changes text/background colors

Text highlighting, sticky notes, and comments

Access for text-based PDFs

Production features in reader

Production Features in Reader

  • Really designed for reading, not reformatting

  • Export PDF

    • Subscription service (about $20/year)

    • Upload PDF file, service auto-converts to Word, download

Process with acrobat pro

Process with Acrobat Pro


Enlargement for printing


Extracting/deleting pages

Combining/inserting pages

Text extraction

Works best with text-based PDF

Does have built-in OCR capability

Customize quick tools

Customize Quick Tools

  • Click on the “gear”

  • View > Show/hide > Toolbar Items > Quick Tools

Quick tools menu

Quick Tools Menu



Please note

Please Note

  • To enable single-key shortcuts

    • Open Preferences dialog box Ctrl + K

    • Under General > select Use Single-Key Accelerators To Access Tools (first checkbox under Basic Tools)



  • Tools > Pages > Crop

  • Shortcut: C

  • (Please note: This shortcut brings up the mouse-driven cropping tool—must double click to open the dialog box!)

Crop tool

Crop Tool

Crop toolbox

Crop Toolbox



  • Choose paper size/printer

  • File > Print > Size…to Fit

  • Shortcut: Ctrl + P (tab through)

  • Tip: Crop document before enlarging

Print to fit

Print to Fit



  • Choose paper size/printer

  • File > Print > Poster > Tile Scale and Overlap

  • Shortcut: Ctrl + P (tab through)

  • Tip: Crop document before tiling

Enlarge with tiling

Enlarge with Tiling

Extracting pages

Extracting Pages

  • Tools > Pages > Extract

  • Delete Shortcut: Ctrl + Shift + D

  • Extract Pages Shortcut: Alt V + T + P (opens Pages pane; F6 focuses in pane and can arrow down)

Extraction tool

Extraction Tool

Tips for extracting chapters

Tips for Extracting Chapters

  • Crop on complete file before extracting

  • Work on a copy!!!!!

  • Extract from end toward front!

  • Use table of contents to help

  • Place focus on first page of chapter to extract (beginning with last)

Starting from the back

Starting from the Back



  • File > Pages > Insert

  • OR

  • Create > Combine files

Inserting pages

Inserting Pages

Combining pages

Combining Pages

Auto extracting text

Auto Extracting Text

  • File > Save As > MS Word

    • Retains styles and paragraphs

  • File > Save As > More options…

    • Text (Accessible)

      • Lose styles, places hard returns at end of line

    • Text (Plain)

      • Lose styles, keeps paragraphs

  • Shortcut: Alt F + A

Save as options

Save As Options

Better text extraction

Better Text Extraction

OCR programs analyze text and structure

Acrobat Pro has built-in OCR, but other programs provide more control

Can control which text to include

More control over text

More Control over Text

  • For graphical PDFs

  • Or

  • To maintain more control over extracting text from text-based PDFs

  • Use an OCR program!

Processing graphical pdfs

Processing Graphical PDFs

Must run optical character recognition (OCR)

Computers cannot read pictures

OCR programs recognize the “characters” in the picture

How you process the file depends on the end format the student wants!

Want to stay in pdf

Want to Stay in PDF?

  • Sometimes students do want a text-based PDF

  • Can OCR in Adobe Pro

    • Tools> Recognize Text

Under tools

Under Tools

Want text out

Want Text Out

  • OmniPage or FineReader

    • FineReader generally easier to learn

    • Save to Word or HTML or Text based on student preference

  • Use virtual printer with Kurzweil

    • Create KESI files

  • R&W

    • Save as Word

Which one when

Which One When?

  • Want a Word file?

    • Best choice is OmniPage or FineReader

  • Want a Kurzweil document?

    • Use Kurzweil to process the PDF

  • For students to do themselves?

    • Whichever program they prefer

Processing pdf how to go from pdf to e text to audio


OCR programs are designed to make extraction and editing easy

Document readers (R&W, Kurzweil, etc.) are designed to make reading easy…NOT editing.



  • Do NOT run OCR with FineReader or OmniPage…save to PDF…and then take into Kurzweil, R&W, etc.

  • Kurzweil, R&W, WYNN will run their own OCR on the PDF!

    • Wastes time, adds error to do OCR twice

Ocr programs

OCR Programs

Treat PDFs the same as a TIFF

If you OCR scanned documents, use the same process

Load image file

Select zones

Create templates as needed

Ocr process details

OCR Process Details

  • Crop before loading into OCR engine

  • Turn on multiple languages as needed

    • If doing math, turn on Greek

    • Only turn on the languages you need

  • Edit in the OCR program

    • Some OCR programs have font matching features

  • Save to Word

Captions and such

Captions and Such

  • For students who want audio or who are using screen readers

    • Separate the main body of the text and the “ancillary text” (captions, sidebars, footnotes)

    • Create two documents 00 Chapter and 00A Chapter

  • Allows the student to hear main text uninterrupted

Two doc workflow

Two Doc Workflow

  • Open PDF in OCR Program

  • Analyze layout for entire document

    • Save a copy

  • On one copy…delete all ancillary text

    • Save to Word as 00 Chapter

  • On other copy…delete all main body text

    • Save as 00A Chapter

  • Keep page numbers in both documents!

Once in word

Once in Word

  • Learn to use “show hidden”

    • Ctrl + Shift + 8

  • Beware of the optional hyphen

    • Search and replace to delete

    • Search for ^- replace with nothing

    • Run spell check

  • Use styles to structure files for braille program

Converting files

Converting Files

Mobile readers

Mobile Readers?

Check formats that device can handle

Some handle PDF and DOC, some do not

All readers handle TXT

Also called text, ASCII

Can save from Word as plain text

Magic conversion tool

Magic Conversion Tool


Converts to and from many formats

Fairly intuitive


Another conversion tool

Another Conversion Tool

  • TechAdapt


  • TechAdapt Accessible Media Center (TAMC)

    • For converting NIMAS and DAISY

  • DAISY to…

    • RTF

    • HTML

File transfer

File Transfer

  • Can use DropBox or Box to transfer files for most readers

  • Kindle and iPad can often use e-mail

Resource info

Resource Info

Gaeir Dietrich


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