PDF Files in Adobe Reader with JAWS and MAGic

NOTE: For those of you participating in the live Webinar, the following link will open the documentation in a new browser window.

The information in this webinar applies to JAWS and MAGic with PDF files for Adobe Reader 7.0 or later and Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional or later. During this webinar the instructor is using Adobe Reader version 10.1.

Versions of Adobe Reader

The most recent version of Adobe® Reader® at the time of this writing is version 10.1 which is also called Adobe Reader X. If you do not have this version you can download Adobe Reader 10 from the Adobe® Web site. If you already have Adobe Reader installed, you can also go to the Help menu in Adobe Reader and choose Check for Updates.

Basic Keyboard Commands for Reading and Navigating PDF Documents

Adobe Reader has quite a few native keyboard commands. Here are a few to help with general navigation within PDF documents:

The Accessibility Setup Assistant

When you first start Adobe Reader and JAWS or MAGic are running, an Accessibility Setup Assistant dialog box opens and walks you through some simple steps to optimize Adobe Reader for your adaptive software. If you missed the Accessibility Setup Assistant or don't remember seeing it you can open it at any time from the Accessibility submenu found in the Edit menu.

Initial Page of the Accessibility Setup Assistant


Accessibility Setup Assistant, page one.


In this initial dialog box there is a group of three radio buttons and an optional button to "Use recommended settings and skip setup." Pressing the optional button will bypass any other dialog boxes and apply the recommended settings for whichever radio button you choose. The three radio button choices are:

If you want to have the ability to pick and choose from among the options then choose the "Next" button and not the "Use Recommended Settings" button. The options are discussed further in the next few sections.

Second Page of the Accessibility Setup Assistant


Accessibility Setup Assistant, page two.


The instructor does not change anything on this page. However, you should feel free to experiment as needed with the different settings, depending on the access technology you use.

MAGic Tip: MAGic has smoothing of text built into it. If both MAGic and Adobe Reader try to smooth the text it can cause the screen not to display as well as it could. Therefore, if you use MAGic or any other programs that use their own smoothing, this is something that should be checked.

Third Page of the Accessibility Setup Assistant


Accessibility Setup Assistant, page three


Again, the instructor makes no changes on this page.

Fourth Page of the Accessibility Setup Assistant


Accessibility Setup Assistant, page four, before changes


This is one page where the instructor recommends not using the default settings. The first group of radio buttons has been set for assistive technology to only look at 50 pages by default. The three choices are:

NOTE: Even though it may take a few seconds longer to read the entire document at once, this is needed if you intend to look for things like links or headings in the entire document for information. Therefore, if you frequently deal with PDF documents that are larger than 50 pages you may want to change this to the option that reads "Read the entire document at once."


EXERCISE: Make sure you have the third radio button above set as your choice. Go ahead through the next page of the Accessibility Setup Assistant and leave any settings as they are. Close the Accessibility Setup Assistant by pressing ENTER on the Finish Button. Then open the file MAGic Users Guide PDF document and follow along with the instructor. This is a 148 page document.

How long did the document take to open? About 5 seconds on my computer.
Press INSERT+F7 to open the list of links. What do you hear? No links.
Press INSERT+F6 to open the list of headings. What do you hear? No headings.
Press CTRL+SHIFT+N to open the Go To Page dialog box. Go to page 15. How many links and headings do you hear? Try using the list of links and list of headings here.

Now, go back into the Accessibility Setup Assistant again by pressing ALT+E to open the Edit menu in Adobe Reader. Choose the Accessibility submenu and choose Accessibility Setup Assistant, the last item in the menu, and press ENTER to open the first page of the dialog box again. Press ENTER until you come to page four again. This time choose the second radio button, "Read the entire document at once," and press ENTER a couple of times to finish with the Assistant.


Accessibility Setup Assistant, page four, after changing settings to read entire document


Try using the list of links or list of headings again (INSERT+F7 or INSERT+F6). What happens? NO DIFFERENCE! Why?

NOTE: JAWS and MAGic gather virtual information the first time a document loads. If you make changes to any PDF document and want to test the changes, or if you make any changes to settings in Adobe Reader, always close the document and reopen it to show the changes to JAWS or MAGic.

Press CTRL+F4 to close just the document, but leave Adobe Reader open. Then press ALT+F to open the File menu in Adobe Reader followed by the number 1 on the numbers row. This is the keystroke to reopen the last file you viewed in most programs like Adobe Reader, Microsoft Word, and so on.

EXERCISE: Notice that it will take JAWS longer to process the page. Time it if you want to. If you press the SayLine keystroke to read the current line during the processing time, what does JAWS say? Alert: document being processed. Once the document has been processed, JAWS announces the number of links and headings. How many are there in the entire document? Headings = 350, Links = 182.

It may take a little longer to open the list of links or to gather information in large PDF documents, but it may also be necessary to change this setting to allow you to find all of the information you need in a timely fashion.

Final Page of the Accessibility Setup Assistant


Accessibility Setup Assistant, page five.


Start the Accessibility Setup Assistant again by pressing ALT+E to open the Edit menu in Adobe Reader. Choose the Accessibility submenu and choose Accessibility Setup Assistant, the last item in the menu, and press ENTER to open the first page of the dialog box again. Press ENTER until you come to page five.

NOTE: All of the options found in the Accessibility Setup Assistant are also found individually in the Adobe Reader Preferences dialog box. You can access the Preferences dialog box from the Edit menu or by pressing CTRL+K.


Disabling Protected Mode in Acrobat Reader 10

When you first install Acrobat Reader 10 an option called Protected Mode is turned on by default. Protected Mode can interfere with JAWS or MAGic and cause problems when reading PDF files. Perform the following steps to turn off Protected Mode in Acrobat Reader 10.

  1. Press CTRL+K or choose Preferences from the Edit menu.
  2. Your cursor will be in a list view of different categories of settings. Press G to move to General.
  3. Press TAB until you find the Enable Protected Mode at Startup check box and make sure it is unchecked. Note that when you change this option a message will alert you that Acrobat Reader must be closed and then reopened before the change will take effect.
  4. Press ENTER or activate the OK button and the Preferences dialog box will close.
  5. Close and then reopen Acrobat Reader if necessary.

Tags in PDF Files

In 2001, Adobe enhanced the PDF specification to allow the creation of “tagged” PDF files in Adobe® Acrobat® software. Tagging a PDF file improves the accessibility of the document, indicating the reading order and improving navigation, particularly for longer, more complex documents. It is also possible to add alternate text descriptions (ALT text) to graphics appearing in tagged PDF documents and more.

Reading Untagged Documents

With Adobe Reader when you open a PDF document that is not tagged, a dialog box appears, asking if you want it to add tags to the document. When this happens you are given the ability to choose from different reading orders and reading modes. Typically, just press ENTER to accept the default settings when you encounter this dialog box.


Reading Untagged Document dialog box in Adobe Reader.


EXERCISE: Open the sample file Untagged Letter PDF with the instructor. When the Reading Untagged Document dialog box appears press ENTER to allow the document to be tagged and follow along with the instructor.

Can you read this document? Yes.

Accessibility Quick Check for PDF Files

To do a quick check of a document's accessibility, press CTRL+SHIFT+6 or go to the Accessibility submenu in the Edit menu and choose Accessibility Quick Check. A dialog box opens giving you a summary of how the document is set up. For an untagged document, you may get something like the following:

Accessibility Quick Check
This document is not structured so the reading order may not be correct. Try different reading orders using the Reading Preferences panel.

EXERCISE: Open the sample file Untagged Letter PDF with the instructor. If you had the document open from the prior exercise, press CTRL+F4 to close just the document, followed by ALT+F, then the number 1 on the numbers row to reopen it. When the Reading Untagged Document dialog box appears press ESC or Cancel to close the dialog box without letting it process the document and follow along with the instructor.

Try to read the document. What happens? JAWS says "Alert, document unavailable."

Scanned Images as PDF

In some cases you may open a PDF document that has been scanned and converted to PDF without any optical character recognition. Text may appear in the document visually, but it is only a scanned image and is not seen as text by the computer. When you run the Accessibility Quick Check on such a document you will receive a message similar to the following:

Accessibility Quick Check
This document appears to contain no text. It may be a scanned image.


If that happens, you can try to contact the author and ask them to convert it to text format. Alternatively, if you own a product that converts scanned images or PDF documents to text, such as OpenBook™ scanning and reading software (another Freedom Scientific product), you can try that.

EXERCISE: Open the sample file scanned image of text document with the instructor. When the Reading Untagged Document dialog box appears press ENTER to allow Adobe to try to add tags to the document and follow along with the instructor.

What happens when you try to read the document? JAWS says Alert, empty document.
Press CTRL+SHIFT+6 to open the Accessibility Quick Checker. What does it say?
When finished, press ENTER on the OK button to close the dialog box.

Secure Documents

Document authors can secure PDF documents to the point that they cannot be read by screen readers. This is not a default setting, and authors have to deliberately change this when creating their documents. However, you may find such documents out there. This is found in the password security - settings part of the document properties of Adobe Acrobat Pro. The default is a check box that is checked, called "Enable text access for screen reader devices for the visually impaired." If the author unchecks this, selection of text is not possible nor is reading of the text.

EXERCISE: Open the sample file secure document PDF file with the instructor.

What happens when you try to read it? JAWS says "alert, protection failure."
Try to select some text by pressing the keystroke to select a line, SHIFT+END (or any other text selection keystroke). What happens? JAWS announces "This is a secure document. Selection is not allowed."

Document Properties

In the Adobe Reader File menu there is a choice called Properties. You can also open the Properties dialog box by pressing CTRL+D. In this dialog box there is static text on the Description page that gives information such as PDF Producer, PDF Version, and whether the document is Tagged PDF or not. On the Security page of this dialog box you find such things as whether Content Extraction for Accessibility is allowed, as well as if printing, copying, and other things are allowed.

EXERCISE: Take a look at the properties dialog box of the secure document used in the prior example. Press CTRL+D


Security page of Document Properties dialog box in Adobe Reader.


The Document Properties dialog box is a multi-page dialog box. In this example, there are fields with read-only text. Press TAB to move through them. There is also quite a bit of other useful information in the dialog box. It is called static text, also read-only, where the normal PC cursor cannot move. So, how do you read it? If you have participated in some of our prior webinars, you know you can route the JAWS cursor to the PC cursor and begin reading it with the mouse pointer. Route JAWS to PC is INSERT+NUM PAD MINUS for desktop layout and CAPS LOCK+LEFT BRACKET for laptop layout users. Another strategy is to virtualize the window by pressing INSERT+ALT+W. That captures the text of any window, including dialog boxes, and puts it into the virtual viewer. Once it is in the virtual viewer you can read through it at your leisure. You can also select text and copy it for pasting into a report, or perhaps an e-mail.

EXERCISE: After looking at the first page of the Document Properties dialog box, press CTRL+TAB to move to the second page, the Security tab. Follow along with the instructor and explore this page.


NOTE: Remember to switch back to the PC cursor if you used the JAWS cursor to read the static text. The keystroke to switch to the PC cursor is NUM PAD PLUS for desktop layout and CAPS LOCK+SEMICOLON for laptop layout users.

When you are finished exploring the Document Properties dialog box, press ESC to close it. Go ahead and close the secure document by pressing CTRL+F4.

Searching for Text in PDF Documents

JAWS Find

It is recommended that you use the JAWS Find command rather than the built-in Adobe Reader Find command. Rather than pressing CTRL+F which will activate the Adobe Find command, press INSERT+CTRL+F to activate the JAWS Find dialog box. The JAWS find is specifically designed to work in HTML and PDF documents and anywhere else the virtual cursor is used.

NOTE: Unless you have changed the Adobe Reader settings to "Read the entire document at once" on the fourth page of the Accessibility Setup Assistant, you will only be able to use the JAWS find for one page at a time, the current page, in large PDF documents.

EXERCISE: Open the MAGic Users Guide PDF document and press CTRL+HOME to move to the top of the document and follow along with the instructor.

Press INSERT+CTRL+F. The JAWS find dialog box appears. Type in the following phrase: resize view and press ENTER. JAWS moves the virtual cursor to the first instance of that phrase in the document.

Press F3 to move to the next instance of the JAWS find.
Press SHIFT+F3 to move backwards in the search with the JAWS find.


JAWS Find dialog box.


Forms Mode in PDF Documents with JAWS and MAGic

JAWS and MAGic use the virtual cursor when reading PDF documents, just as they do when reading Web pages or HTML documents. When you encounter a PDF form, press the TAB key to move from field to field. JAWS and MAGic turn on forms mode automatically, allowing you to type information directly into the form. To get out of Forms Mode, press the NUM PAD PLUS key when using JAWS. MAGic users can also get out of Forms Mode by clicking outside the form fields with the mouse. You can also use INSERT+F5 to get a list of form fields when using JAWS or MAGic.

EXERCISE: Open the sample file Form Basic ZIP and follow along with the instructor to practice using PDF forms with JAWS or MAGic.

Tables in PDF Documents with JAWS and MAGic

Use the same table reading keystrokes with JAWS or MAGic that are used in HTML or Word tables.

EXERCISE: Open the sample file Table ZIP and follow along with the instructor to practice using tables in PDF documents with JAWS or MAGic.

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