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Accessibility - Making a document containing handwriting accessible

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These instructions contain the step on how to make a document accessible when handwriting is present and MUST be maintained. If handwriting does not need to be maintained, the easy fix is to edit the PDF and type in the correct characters in place of the handwritten ones.

Assuming you are on a document, such as legal paperwork where the handwriting and signatures must be maintained but the OCR text found by Adobe Acrobat is wrong, the steps below can be used to update this document.

Please note that this solution, although will convey the correct text to users of assistive technology, is a bit cumbersome to complete as each piece of handwriting will have to be done individually. If there is a simpler or cleaner solution found for this, please contact Contact Us, reference this wiki page and suggest an edit be made to include the new solution.

You may also want to see Accessibility - Correcting Text in a Scanned Document

To accomplish this task, you will need Adobe Acrobat Pro as well as a graphics editor, such as Photoshop or MS Paint.

Screen shot the handwriting

  1. Open the PDF with the handwriting issue, zoom to approx 400%, and make sure the handwriting to be corrected is in the view.
  2. Press the Print Screen button on the keyboard. A copy of your screen(s) are placed on the clipboard.
  3. Navigate to your graphics editor and open a new file. If you have the option to open a new file to the size of the clipboard, do so.
  4. CTRL+V (Paste) the clipboard into the canvas of the graphics editor. You will see a copy of your screen(s) shown here.
  5. In the graphics editor, zoom down close enough to see the handwriting in question and using the mask or marquee tool (same tool but may have different names from editor to editor), mask out a rectangle just outside the boundaries of the handwriting.

Paste and scale the handwriting image:

  1. With the mask around the handwriting in the graphics editor, copy it (CTRL+C) to the clipboard.
  2. Navigate back over to Acrobat Pro and zoom out to approx 200%. Make sure you are at a comfortable zoom level to see the handwriting, but are not too close to see anything else.
  3. Paste (CTRL+V) the copied handwriting graphic into Acrobat. You will see the rectangular image show up near the existing handwriting.
  4. Move the image near the handwriting and using its scale grips, scale the image down to the approx size of the existing handwriting.

Out with the Old and in with the New

  1. Delete the actual existing handwritten text from below the image and replace it with spaces so that the remaining text is placed correctly.
  2. Open the reading Order pane and window-select the image.
  3. Click the Figure button.
  4. Right click the black box with "Figure" in it and choose "Edit Alternate Text".
  5. Add in the text to be read from a screen reader or other assistive technology and click OK.

Correcting the Reading Order

  1. Navigate to the Content Pane, open the Page 1 content, and scroll down to find the existing text. If the new image is placed between two pieces of text and those two pieces of text are one element, we need to separate those into two elements.
  2. To separate them, open the Reading Order Pane and window-select the text on the right hand side.
  3. Click the "Text/Paragraph" option in the Reading Order Pane.
  4. Navigate back to the Content Pane and you will notice the left text, image, and right text are now all individual elements.
  5. Ensure the order is correct. If they are not, drag and drop each into the correct order, making sure not to nest elements.
  6. SAVE the document and repeat this process for each handwritten element.