[Athen] JAWS and PDF/Word/Text files

Chagnon | PubCom chagnon at pubcom.com
Fri Dec 9 16:36:27 PST 2016

I'll let others address math-reading software.

But in terms of giving a PDF versus a Word versus a text document, I'd go
for the PDF. That is, if it is tagged correctly for full accessibility.

A lousy PDF is a nightmare, but a well-tagged PDF with the correct reading
order can be an excellent experience.

Word has its accessibility problems: one key problem for textbooks is that
text boxes that are often used for pull quotes and sidebar material are not
accessible in Word. But they can be made accessible in a PDF.

Text files shouldn't even be considered because that file format lacks so

* Headings, which are critical for comprehension and understanding, as well
as for navigating the book quickly.

* Alt-text on graphics, which most likely will be the formulas and

* Hyperlinks for accessing websites, cross-references, tables of content,
footnotes, indexes, and anything else that should be clickable.

However, before going further, I suggest you investigate 2 things about the
PDF the student was already given:

1. Is it fully accessible? That is, does it have the correct tags,
reading order, alt-text, etc.

2. Does the student know how to use JAWS? A short briefing in how
to access documents quickly via keyboard shortcuts could help.

3. And does her computer have software to specifically assist with
reading math, science, etc.?

There are plenty of us on this list who could probably test the PDF for you.
Just ask.

--Bevi Chagnon

- - -

Bevi Chagnon | <http://www.pubcom.com/> www.PubCom.com

Technologists, Consultants, Trainers, Designers, and Developers

for publishing & communication

| Acrobat PDF | Print | EPUBS | Sec. 508 Accessibility |

- - -

From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On
Behalf Of Jiron, Randi
Sent: Friday, December 9, 2016 6:49 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network (athen-list at u.washington.edu)
<athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: [Athen] JAWS and PDF/Word/Text files


We have a new student who is blind and requested alternate format for her
books. She is a JAWS user and first requested PDF files but then said JAWS
wouldn't work well with the PDF and asked for Word docs. We provided the
Word docs and she says her computer froze up while trying to access. She is
now asking for TEXT files, one of the books is a math book. She is working
with Commission for the Blind, who has provided her with the laptop and the
software that she is using. I suggested that she contact her advisor at
Commission to ensure the computer is working properly and to see if there is
tech support through that organization. Other than that, do you have some
suggestions for us on providing electronic text for this student especially
the math book? Isn't there special software for converting the math portion
of the math text book?

Thank you for your time.


Randi Jiron, MBA/TM

Disability Services Specialist

Josephine County

Rogue Community College

541-956-7214 Redwood Campus

541-471-3550 FAX

7-1-1 OTRS (Oregon Telecom Relay Service)


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