[Athen] Question about Read-Only Word docs vs. PDFs

Susan Kelmer Susan.Kelmer at colorado.edu
Mon Aug 12 08:49:27 PDT 2019

We are not the copyright police. Also, we are not the ethics police.

If a college takes the word of a student without verifying that the information is correct, that is not on us.

Will some students try to cheat the system? Sure. Will some students follow the rules? Absolutely.

Not our problem, one way or the other, really. Also, writing a syllabus in Word, then saving as PDF with the right options selected makes a pretty good and accessible PDF for any student to use. I wouldn't fight this battle too hard.

Susan Kelmer
Alternate Format Production Program Manager
Disability Services
University of Colorado Boulder

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Christine Robinson
Sent: Monday, August 12, 2019 9:39 AM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: [Athen] Question about Read-Only Word docs vs. PDFs

Hi all -

For a couple of years now, we've been training our faculty members to make their syllabi accessible, and that has included the recommendation to distribute the documents as Read-Only Word files instead of converting them into PDF. (Granted, it would be better if they would put the content on a course web page, but that isn't something we can do at this point. We've also been focusing on Word documents as a first step, since PDFs take a little more work to make accessible.)

There is usually some pushback to the idea of not converting syllabi to PDF, because faculty are concerned about students trying to change content. Up until now, they've been satisfied when they consider that it would be silly for a student to change something in a syllabus - late work policy, attendance, etc. - and try to convince the prof it's what he or she wrote.

This morning someone pointed out that when students transfer schools and want credit for upper division courses (those which don't automatically transfer), they need a syllabus to show the class is similar enough to the new institution's. If they can get access to the new institution's syllabus, they could alter syllabi to match. Obviously they could do this with most PDFs as well, but it would take more work.

Any advice about this?


Christine Robinson | Technical Trainer/Writer | Center for Teaching Excellence
Georgia Gwinnett College | 1000 University Center Lane| Lawrenceville, GA 30043

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://mailman12.u.washington.edu/pipermail/athen-list/attachments/20190812/048c1470/attachment.html>

More information about the athen-list mailing list