Creating accessible PDFs for eLearning: Part 1
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Creating accessible PDFs for eLearning: Part 1

The phrase “knowledge is power” is a well-known one, often attributed to Francis Bacon, but repeated by countless prominent figures throughout history. This phrase, in many ways, continues to hold true today – the more knowledge and education one gains on a subject, the more accurate and informed decisions one can make, and more nuanced ideas and opinions one can form. However, if I were to chat with Francis Bacon today, I’d suggest he add a key word to his infamous phrase that’s been plastered on the walls of too many school libraries to count – accessible knowledge is power.

Accessibility is a hot topic in the learning community right now, but we should make no mistake – accessibility has always been important. It’s significant that both companies and individuals are starting to take accessibility into account more and more, and it’s also important to recognize that this should absolutely not be viewed as just another “trend” in eLearning, but rather as a basic principle that we as educators need to constantly consider and improve upon. It is vital that knowledge and education reaches everyone who wishes to learn.

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While working on a large eLearning project for a Big 4 accounting firm, GAAP Dynamics was tasked with creating an accessible resource that would essentially be a replica of the self-study courses we were creating that a blind or low-vision learner would be able to utilize without outside assistance. This resource needed to be fully NASBA-compliant so that the learner would be able to receive the appropriate CPE for the course.

As a solution, we took the course indexes that we included with each of our self-study courses – essentially, the entire course recreated in written form – and converted them into accessible PDFs that were able to be read and navigated by a screen reader (we utilized JAWS for our testing process). These courses included interactive knowledge checks placed throughout the course, and a post-course assessment created using Google Forms included at the end.

While learning to create these accessible course indexes, or ACIs as we called them for short, we utilized online resources to help us ensure that we were creating the best possible experience for the learners. An incredibly helpful resource that we utilized was the UA Technology Accessibility YouTube channel, which I would highly recommend checking out for anyone interested in PDF accessibility. However, we ran into a few errors while programming that were a bit trickier to solve than others, and it was difficult to find information on how to troubleshoot some of them. Therefore, we wanted to create this multi-part vlog series on how we tagged our accessible course indexes to be read by a screen reader, as well as how to troubleshoot the errors we ran into, as we would love to be a helpful resource to anyone else working on updating their PDF resources for accessibility.

Today, we’ll be walking through prepping your ACI in Microsoft Word to be converted to PDF, tagging any forms included in the document, and sharing several solutions for troubleshooting form errors.

About GAAP Dynamics  

We’re a DIFFERENT type of accounting training firm. We don’t think of training as a “tick the box” exercise, but rather an opportunity to empower your people to help them make the right decisions at the right time. Whether it’s U.S. GAAP training, IFRS training, or audit training, we’ve helped thousands of professionals since 2001. Our clients include some of the largest accounting firms and companies in the world. As lifelong learners, we believe training is important. As CPAs, we believe great training is vital to doing your job well and maintaining the public trust. We want to help you understand complex accounting matters and we believe you deserve the best training in the world, regardless of whether you work for a large, multinational company or a small, regional accounting firm. We passionately create high-quality training that we would want to take. This means it is accurate, relevant, engaging, visually appealing, and fun. That’s our brand promise. Want to learn more about how GAAP Dynamics can help you? Let’s talk!


This post is published to spread the love of GAAP and provided for informational purposes only. Although we are CPAs and have made every effort to ensure the factual accuracy of the post as of the date it was published, we are not responsible for your ultimate compliance with accounting or auditing standards and you agree not to hold us responsible for such. In addition, we take no responsibility for updating old posts, but may do so from time to time.

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