Make an accessible PDF from earlier versions of Word for Mac

All documents I create for my science courses have to be accessible.  I’m now routinely creating new materials as accessible documents, but most of us must make countless existing documents accessible as well.  As I mentioned in a prior post, the new 15.41 version of Office has a good accessibility checker, and it’s an immense help.

I often want to make a PDF version of a document, such as my course syllabus.  So when I’ve invested the considerable time to ensure that a document is accessible, what could be more exasperating and discouraging than losing that accessibility when saving the document as a PDF file?  Accessibility of a document is not preserved when a document is saved as a PDF with older versions Office for Mac.  The great news is that when I saved a document written with the new Office for Mac as a PDF, the accessibility was preserved!

But what can you do if you don’t have the new version of Office for Mac?  Well, after a lot of searching on the Internet, I found a solution: Apache’s OpenOffice is free.  Thank you, Apache!  Download it, and open the Word for Mac document in OpenOffice.  From the File menu, choose “Export as PDF.”  On the screen that is displayed, check “Tagged PDF,” and then press Export.  That’s it.  The document is now an accessible PDF!


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