Working with Inaccessible PDFs

Presented at 10:30am in Westminster IV on Monday, November 14, 2016.



  • Gaeir Dietrich, Access Specialist, Consultant

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 5-6 hr
  • Format:
  • Expertise Level: Intermediate
  • Type of session: Pre-conference


PDF has become the de facto format of choice for publishers and faculty, but as an alternate format, PDFs can often be problematic. In this hands-on session, we will explore how to make your PDFs more usable and, when necessary, how to change your PDFs into a more user-friendly format.


What does it mean for a PDF to be accessible? How do you handle PDF files from publishers? From faculty? In this hands-on session, we will consider PDF as a format, its strengths and weaknesses. We will gain experience with remediating inaccessible PDFs, share some resources for reading PDF files directly, and learn to transform PDFs into entirely different file formats. By the end of this session, you will find yourself saying, “Oh, good, a PDF! I know what to do with that!”


  1. How to correct reading order in a PDF
  2. Software and apps that work well for reading PDFs
  3. Processing and extracting text from PDFs

Disability Areas

Other, Vision

Topic Areas

Alternate Format, Web/Media Access

Speaker Bio(s)

Gaeir Dietrich

Gaeir Dietrich is a nationally recognized expert in the field of alternate media, assistive technology, and Section 508 compliance. Gaeir has served on advisory boards for the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), Bookshare, the DIAGRAM Center, the Alternate Text Production Center (ATPC), and the Silicon Valley Independent Living Center. In 2010-2011, she served as the chair for the federal Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education.