Champlain College provides faculty with an external tool called SensusAccess, which allows you to turn many kinds of documents, including PDF and image scans, into more accessible formats. This simple tool allows you to submit a file directly to the service and receive the accessible version via your email. You can then distribute that version via Canvas or directly to students who need it.
To use SensusAccess, you will need a digital copy of the document you want to convert. The tool can be used with a wide range of input file types, including Powerpoint presentations, Word documents, ebook formats like MOBI and EPUB, PDFs, HTML files, and many image types (for scanned textual content, not interpretation of a picture).
As we describe in our article on accessible PDFs, if you are converting a scanned document, you will need to have a clean, clear scan that is right-side-up and preferably one book page per scan page. That also applies to scans in image formats (.jpg, .png, .gif, etc.). Using clear files will increase the accuracy of the accessible version.
The SensusAccess services available to Champlain users include file conversion and PDF tagging for accessibility, written document to audio conversion, document conversion to ebook formats, and translation to digital Braille. Please note that although SensusAccess offers additional services like language support, we do not have access to those.
This procedure describes how to make a document more accessible (e.g., turn a PDF scan or other image of text into a “tagged” PDF that is legible to a screen-reader). Explore the SensusAccess e-learning course linked below to learn more about other functions.
- Navigate to the SensusAccess conversion portal
- Upload your file(s) — you can submit single files or batches of files
- When prompted, select “Accessibility conversion”
- When prompted to choose an output type, select the most appropriate type for your needs. If your goal is to have an accessible PDF, “text-over-image” is usually desirable. (Check out this resource to learn why.)
- Enter your email address, making sure it is correct. It must be your Champlain email address.
- Click “Submit”
When you receive your converted file, download it to your computer and give it a logical name. Save it somewhere you’ll be able to find in future semesters. Then upload it to Canvas as you normally would.
NOTE: SensusAccess cannot process Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, etc. directly from a link. You will need to download these files as PDFs or Microsoft Office formats (.docx, .pptx, .xlsx) and then follow the procedure above.
Here’s a demonstration by SensusAccess that generally matches the procedure for uploading and converting a file (make sure to use the link above to Champlain’s conversion portal):
You can find the answers to common questions about SensusAccess in their FAQ.
SensusAccess also provides an e-learning tutorial course about all their services. The most relevant modules for Champlain users are:
- Module 2: Introduction to SensusAccess
- Module 3: Producing simple MP3 files
- Module 4: Converting inaccessible or tricky documents
- Module 5: Producing simple e-books
- Module 6: Designing and creating accessible documents