Accessible Format Production: Part 1 & 2 Scanning and Creating Text-Readable PDF

As promised, the first post on the steps to creating accessible formats.

## Part 1 & 2: Scanning Print & Creating a PDF

There are so many ways to scan pages into images and compile them into a PDF that I’ll only be doing a general overview. 

What You Need

  • Scanner
  • Scanning software

It’s simple enough but options abound. 

At the most basic, you need to decide on whether you will cut off the spine to put into a feeder, or keep the material intact and flip pages (which is obviously much more time consuming). 

If you want to keep material intact, you might consider the DIY scanner since most other options are quite expensive. 

Your scanning software should make it easy to edit and crop pages so they are all the same size with optimal contrast. When finished, the standard option is to export the whole book to a single PDF. 

The last step is to put the file through OCR. FREE OPTIONS?

More sophisticated software will OCR as the pages are scanned in and even mark the pieces of text that need to be reviewed. However, these types of software can be costly. Still, ABBY Fine Reader and Omnipage are often recommended if you do a lot of scanning. 

## Setup Time & Learning Curve

The hardest part of the process, especially these first parts is getting things set up. The learning curve will be quite high especially for less expensive setups. 

Documentation becomes particularly important since you want the setup to be replicable, and for staff to use it. 

## A Balance 

It’s a big balance between time and resources. 

Cut & Scan

  • More efficient (scanning & editing images)
  • Less setup time & cost
  • Major downside: does not preserve material (though you could spiral bind to keep)

Flip & Scan

  • More time consuming 
  • More expensive & typically more time needed to setup
  • Preserves material 

You might consider having both setups and use the most appropriate for the material that you’re scanning. 

Not surprisingly, most libraries and similar organizations have non-destructive scanners. On the other hand, most of the accessible format producers seem to use the destructive method in order to complete requests faster. 

With all the options out there, I’m sure each organization can find something that suits their needs. 

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A librarian learning the ways of technology, accessibility, metadata, and people

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