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Smith makes every reasonable effort to ensure that all instructional materials are accessible. Instructors are responsible for assuring that instructional materials are provided in accessible formats.

Making Texts and Other Books Accessible

When possible, faculty should select accessible content when it also meets the goals of the course. Check the following resource to confirm that all required books are available in an accessible version:

If a book is listed there, you can be reasonably certain that the book is accessible and will need little or no conversion. If the book is not available, you should request an extra desk copy that could be used to cut and scan to an accessible format should an accommodation request be made.

If a student with a disability in your course requests a book in accessible format, the Office of Disability Services will work with you to convert the book by cutting, scanning and converting it to a format that best meets the student’s individual needs. The conversion process can take time, up to a few weeks. While most student requests for accessible formats will come directly to ODS, please inform us immediately if you receive a student request for books in an alternative format.

Ebooks, while digital, are often not available in an accessible format, nor are they able to be converted directly.  Choosing to require an ebook could mean that students needing accessible formats will have to purchase a hard copy and work with the Office of Disability Services to convert it to an accessible format and may be delayed in accessing required materials.  

Before posting to Moodle, ensure that your course materials are clear by uploading good-quality documents to RoboBraille. This online service, to which the Five Colleges Consortium has subscribed, will render your course materials in clean, accessible PDFs.

  1. Choose a document and click the button marked “upload” and then “next.”
  2. Choose “Document Conversion” and click “next.”
  3. Select “doc-Microsoft Word” from the dropdown menu and click “next.”
  4. Enter your email address and click “submit.”

At that point you will be at the Receipt page, where you can either choose to convert another document or leave the system. Within 24 hours you should receive your converted document, which you can then look over and use the Spellcheck function to make sure it “reads” properly. To convert the corrected Word document into an accessible PDF:

  1. With the Word document open, select “Print”
  2. Choose “Adobe PDF” from the dropdown menu under “Printer”
  3. A window will pop up asking you to save the PDF. Save the PDF in the appropriate place on your computer, and then post it to Moodle.

Starting with the best possible source document will positively impact the entire process of copying and scanning. Whenever possible, avoid source documents that have:

  • highlighting
  • underlining
  • margin notes
  • creases on the pages
  • shading into the text (by not holding the book firmly to the glass during the scan)

If necessary, search for another clean print source.  Sometimes just getting another copy of the book or periodical will help.  The library will replace any library owned item that has been damaged and cannot be repaired. Please report any notes, highlighting or underlining of needed chapters to the circulation desk.

Or consider finding an online or digital copy of the content:

  • For more recent publications, an electronic version may already be available through one of the many journal databases available on the Smith Library website. Creating links to these documents within Moodle will reduce the need for copying and scanning and will address the copyright requirements.
  • Likewise, book content old enough to be in the public domain may have already been digitized and can be found in accessible databases such as Project Gutenberg,

The college's copiers can now print left and right pages separately from a bound original.  By separating the pages in the copy process, you can then scan the pages individually and create PDF files with a one-to-one page ratio that both increases the accuracy of the text-to-digital conversion, known as Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and allows for proper page numbering, providing easier reference and navigation for students. 

Note: If the student prefers to print the document, two pages to one, they can do this from Adobe using the “Page Scaling” function in the Print Settings and selecting “multiple pages per sheet” from the dropdown list.

The function on the copier that handles this is called “Bound Originals” and can be found under the “Image Adjustment” tab in the control panel. If you select “Both Pages” and then “Save,” you can lay the open book down in the center of the copier, and it will scan and print the pages separately.

If you need help using this copier function, please contact your department support staff or the CBS Xerox Company campus representative. The control panel may vary depending on the model of the copier you are using.

When copying from a book or periodical please watch for the following:

  • Inspect EACH page AFTER you copy it; this will allow you to immediately recopy any poor-quality pages.
  • Carefully bear down on spine of book to get a clean image. Too much gap at the spine causes either blurred or curved margins at best, or worse, a thick black image that can sometimes obscure the text.
  • Make sure the glass on copier or flatbed is clean (no noticeable smudges, tape, etc.)
  • Make sure page is aligned with the edges of the copier and that no information is cut off.  Page numbers and headers/footers are important! 
  • CAUTION: Pages must be straight and aligned with edge of copier to convert accurately. (OCR, or Optical Character Recognition, is the software process that converts the image file to digital text.)
  • Use the zoom adjustment feature on the copier and adjust up or down from 100 percent so that your source document fills the page, allowing a 1-inch margin (e.g. 90 percent if the book is too big or 110 percent if book is too small). Test a few times to determine the appropriate “%” before proceeding with the remainder of that book.

Note:  Minimizing the amount of “black” on the photocopied or digitized page (either in the center or around the outer edges) will save on printer toner and reduce the file size of the document.

Open Adobe Acrobat Professional, click on the icon “create PDF” and select “from scanner” in the dropdown menu.

Set the scanning software resolution to 300 or 400 dpi. (Please see help menu of your particular software if you do not know how to do this.)

Scanning color settings:

  • Select Black and White if you are scanning text only on the pages.
  • Select Grayscale if you are scanning text and images, or if there is color text on the pages.
  • NEVER select the COLOR or AUTO setting. This unnecessarily creates very large files and interferes with the accuracy of the OCR process.

Once the document is scanned, go to “Tools” in the upper right hand corner, click on “Recognize Text” > “In This File.” A pop up menu will appear, click “OK.”

Save the file with a meaningful filename, (i.e. author last name and title of article).

Please feel free to contact the Office of Disability Services at ext. 2071 with any questions, or if you need help adjusting your scanner settings.  Adjustments will depend on which scanner software you are using to create PDF files.

Converting Non-Readable PDFs Using Adobe Acrobat Pro

  • Adobe Pro should be installed on all computers in the Smith College libraries.
  • A PDF is not readable if you cannot highlight or select any of the text in the document.
  • Open the PDF file with Adobe Acrobat (do not use Adobe reader), select “View,” then “Tools,” “Recognize Text,” and finally “In this File.” From here select “All Pages” and “OK.” This will enable the software to read each sheet and make it searchable, this may take a minute depending on the size of the document. 
  • After the reading is complete save your document to replace the old copy.
  • If you open your new file again you can now select and copy text from the page.
  • Adobe can also help crop out notes or shading at the margins of documents. Go to “View,” “Tools,” “Pages,” and then “Crop." Then take your cursor and click on a corner of the page. Hold down the cursor and create a box highlighting the text you want to keep. When you unclick the box should remain, then double click inside the box. A “Set Page Boxes” will open up and select “OK” at the bottom right (you can also crop multiple pages from this screen).
  • Should you have an older document that has already been scanned with two pages on each image and you want to split the pages vertically for better accessibility, you can use the following online resource:
  • For more assistance creating text accessible documents please contact Dominique Tremblay (Neilson Library, ext. 4163, or or Lisa Roberge with the Office of Disability Services (ext. 2071) with regards to PDF conversions.

Library Scanners for Better PDF Creation

The new Scannx scanners in the library can create PDFs by selecting to create “Searchable PDF” in the settings before you start scanning.

You can scan two pages of a book at once but can vertically split each page after each scan for better accessibility.

Making Media Accessible


Images can be made accessible to someone with vision problems by providing a descriptive text, usually called an Alt Text. Screen readers will read this text aloud whenever they encounter an image the user may not be able to see clearly.

  • Moodle will prompt you for Alt Text whenever you upload an image, as will most website editing tools.
  • If the image includes text, be sure to include a caption that accurately describes the image.


  • Providing a transcript or caption will make audio accessible to those with hearing or auditory processing problems.
  • Audio is easiest to caption or transcribe if it is in digital form, such as an mp3 file. If you are dealing with audio on a CD or tape and have copyright clearance, please consult with the Center for Media Production ( or ext. 2954) to get the audio digitized.
  • For nonspecific language we use a transcription/captioning service called For discipline-specific or complex language ETS uses 3PlayMedia. There are costs associated with these services, but at this time ETS covers costs for materials that will be directly used in a course through Moodle. Contact the Center for Media Production at or ext. 2954.


Video usually has audio associated with it, so the above applies. A descriptive text in a screen-readable format should be provided if the captions or transcript do not adequately describe what is going on visually. See the example below.

Selecting and Implementing Software

Accessibility needs to be a primary consideration when selecting and implementing new classroom learning technologies, including interactive online software, platforms and e-learning environments. Please provide our Vendor/Bidder EIT Accessibility Questionnaire to vendors and review their responses prior to selecting new classroom learning technologies.

For technologies that require contracts, the Electronic and Information Technology Contract Clause (see ABC Contract Clauses) ensuring compliance with accessibility standards must be included in contracts involving the selection and/or procurement of electronic and information technologies.

See the Technology Procurement section of this site for more details.

For more information about how you can assure that your instructional materials are accessible visit:

​For information on resources available to students to facilitate accessible learning (both campus-wide solutions and accommodations-based supports), please visit the Office of Disability Services’ Accommodations page.