[Athen] Affordable OCR Packages for Faculty and Staff

Sean J Keegan skeegan at stanford.edu
Thu Feb 14 16:24:34 PST 2013

> I am looking for an affordable Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
> package that our disability services office can recommend to faculty
> and staff to promote the creation of accessible PDF documents.

Hi Rebecca,

You have raised an excellent question that I have found opens a very
large box of more questions. I have a few to start the conversation:
- What are the input formats? MS Word? PDF? Scanned images?

- What amount of formatting/editing, if any, would be done post-production?

- What output formats do you want? PDF? Others?

- What types of documents do you expect faculty/staff to process? Math
or just text? What about documents with images/graphs?

- What tools do you expect students will use to interact with the
documents? Any specific AT applications? Mobile devices?

There are certainly options, but it depends on what your larger goals
may be in terms of outcomes. If you could provide a bit more
information, then it would be easier to provide more relevant feedback.

That being said...while I think there is value to providing instruction
to faculty and staff about how to create accessible PDF documents, one
significant challenge is achieving a useful level of participation from
said individuals. Specifically around PDF documents, there are
limitations as to what you can and cannot do to improve accessibility in
a document; the term "accessible PDF" is rather nebulous and may not
really provide the level of accessibility you are seeking.

Take care,

Sean Keegan
Associate Director, Assistive Technology
Office of Accessible Education - Stanford University

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