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Creating Accessible Materials

Students with an accommodation for "supplemental materials in accessible format" need to have enhanced classroom materials in order to fully participate in the course. Faculty can make their MS Word docs and PDFs accessible by ensuring that they are in an electronic format that is readable by screen reader software. Syllabi, articles, homework assignments are examples of materials that can be made accessible. Our office can help you convert your materials into accessible formats. Please give us a call (503-370-6737) or email us ( with your questions.

The following resources will guide you through creating accessible documents:

Making Accessible PDFs

The most common software to use for reading PDFs is Adobe Acrobat. You can use Adobe Acrobat to check a PDF's accessibility. The Accessible Education Services office created a Making PDFs Accessible guide to assist faculty in checking their PDFs. This guide is a basic starting point in PDF accessibility. We encourage faculty to work with AES staff in the process of making PDFs accessible. Don't have Adobe Acrobat DC? Contact your WITS USC for installation assistance.

The Hatfield Library

The Hatfield Library's “Accessing Content” page offers faculty concise instructions on making accessible PDFs for your classes. Library staff created this easy-to-use resource so that faculty can:

  • Become familiar with OCR (Optimal Character Recognition)
  • Create readable PDFs
  • Learn to activate the Read Out Loud feature in Adobe Acrobat to test readability of PDFs
  • Use databases to find articles that are already created in OCR format


WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind) is a non-profit organization that provides detailed directions, including pictures, on how to make Word documents accessible and convert them into PDFs. Select the version of Word that you are using for a guide to making accessible documents:

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources (OER) are free teaching, learning, and researching resources that are already accessible. Consider using OER materials in your courses to ensure access and save students money. These resources are available in a multitude of formats, including textbooks, full courses, modules, videos, labs, assignments, and assessments. The Hatfield Library provides a detailed introduction to OER and how to use them. View the OER website.

Willamette University

Accessible Education Services

Salem Campus

Smullin 155
Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-370-6737 voice
503-370-6647 fax

Portland Campus

Room 270
Pacific Northwest College of Art
511 NW Broadway
Portland Oregon 97227 U.S.A.