PDF is a surprisingly complicated format: a PDF file can contain almost anything. Some PDFs work well with assistive technology like ClaroRead, some don’t: how can you be sure you have made or been given a PDF that will read properly? Will an exam paper in PDF format work in your exam?
Our scanning and OCR programs, including ClaroRead, create PDFs in what we call the Claro PDF Format. These are specially made to work with assistive technology. Here’s how we achieve this, and the problems you might encounter if you have not converted your PDFs into the Claro PDF format:
- They contain text not just images or pictures of text. A PDF may look like it has text in it, but won’t read: Claro PDF files always have text where it looks like there is text.
- They have a good reading order. The technical description is that they are tagged PDF files with structures like paragraphs and headings. This means that the text in the PDF will be read correctly, not jumping around the page nor ignoring columns nor reading each letter as a separate word – all problems you may encounter with other PDF files. (As a nice side-effect this means PDFs in the Claro PDF format load faster!)
- They have the original page so they look identical to the PDF or image you started with. This gives you the confidence that you are reading what was there to start with, includes diagrams and pictures perfectly, and means they match with the original (often a book or exam paper). This is especially important for exam papers.
- There is a trade-off here: it means you cannot reflow Claro PDF documents. Our experience is that seeing the original page is so important for users that this is the right approach: if you for some reason do need a reflowable PDF, you can always use ClaroRead Pro and select PDF as the output instead of Claro PDF, or select PDF without image layer in ClaroRead Cloud OCR.
This all means that images, paper and PDF files you need to convert, including exam papers, will work best in the Claro PDF format created by our scanning and OCR tools – irrespective of which assistive technology you or your users employ to read them. If you are running an exam you can be confident that the PDFs will read well in Adobe Reader with ClaroRead, ClaroPDF on iOS or any other software you are using, whether from Claro Software or not.
- PDF and Accessibility. A detailed guide to the format and how it works with assistive technology.