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This PDF is Scanned

October 19, 2023

Your PDF in Canvas has a bright red dial, a score of 0%, and the message “This PDF is scanned.” What do you do?

Step 1: Can you make another copy?

Do you have access to the original book, article, etc.? Can you find it again online or in the University Library?

If you can find a digital copy, it’s probably already more accessible than your scan. Adobe Acrobat Pro can save a webpage as a PDF that is more accessible than a printed or scanned copy.

If you have a printed copy, contact the Universal Design Center (UDC) or your Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI) coordinator about how to re-scan it to a more accessible format.

Step 2: Librarians

If you can’t find the source, reach out to your University Library Subject Specialist. They may have ideas about where to find the original, maybe even a more accessible version? 

Step 3: Use Ally

Go back to your file in Canvas. Next to it is a little down arrow that allows you to download an alternative format. Select OCRed PDF. The file that results will not be fully accessible. Review it for accuracy and upload it into Canvas for a new Ally score. However, for higher-quality scans and/or files that are mostly text, Ally can make some big improvements. And the OCRed PDF will be easier to fix than the scanned PDF.

If the OCRed PDF has too many inaccuracies, try Ally’s alternative formats again and select HTML. Open the new file in a web browser, copy all of the text, and paste it into your favorite word processing software. You can fix Ally’s mistakes and add basic structure such as headings.

Last Resort

We won’t fix a scanned PDF if we have any other option, but sometimes there isn’t one. If this PDF is the only copy you have and you cannot find another one, and Ally didn’t help, contact the UDC for a  /bookings/">consultation.