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On 05/01/2018 08:31 PM, Tom Davies wrote:
Hi :)
Sounds like using .doc is the best answer after all.  The Pdf route is
intriguing.  I think Virgil probably knows whether any of his students have
relevant accessibility issues.

Yes, none of my students are visually impaired and none need a screen 
reader, so I'm not concerned about lawsuits. However, I also teach 
several on-line courses, and this discussion has caused me to rethink 
some of my practices. After some very preliminary searching, it appears 
that the problem is not limited to PDF files.

Apparently, at least one of the problems is with graphics. As I 
understand it (and I admit I understand very little of it), screen 
readers turn text into speech and read the document to the user whose 
vision prevents him/her from reading it visually. I guess screen readers 
stumble on pictures. One problem with PDF is that, depending on how its 
created, the entire file can be a graphic instead of text. For example, 
if I scan a text document and save it as a PDF, what I have is not a 
text file, but a picture of a text file. Jonathan suggested that the 
fillable box in a PDF file is a graphic that screen readers don't 
comprehend. I'll defer to his greater knowledge of the subject.

Since graphics aren't limited to PDF files, neither is the potential for 
ADA violations. In my cursory search, I found articles explaining how to 
make DOC files and HTML files more accessible as well as PDF files. 
(See, e.g., I 
found an interesting article from 2011 dealing with making files more accessible. 
( One recommendation was to use 
paragraph styles for headings as they not only make the headings look 
nice, but also provide logical organization of the document, so here's 
yet another benefit of using styles!

Having said all this, I also had the opportunity to experiment with LO's 
creation of fillable PDF forms. I like the way it works, but from what I 
have found, it would seem to work best if the fillable text is only one 
line -- a short box here or there. My test is an essay test with answers 
that will be several paragraphs long. At least with the PDF I created, 
all of the fillable text was input on one line that didn't initially 
wrap. Only after I typed the entire fill-in text and hit <enter> did the 
text wrap and become formatted to the text box that I had created. 
Assuming this is the way it always works, I don't think this would be 
very convenient for students trying to write a three paragraph essay. I 
think it it would be better for students to simply type their answers 
into the word processing file rather than a PDF. But, it's nice to know 
that LO has this capability. I'm sure I'll use it in other situations.

I also checked one of my school's computers and it appears that it has 
MSO 2006 on it -- at least that's what the Program Files menu says. It 
has been several years since I have used any version of MSO, so I'm not 
up to speed on the different versions of it over the years, and I found 
no way to open an "about MS Word" dialog to see what version it actually 
was. I say this to confirm that I have no confidence that my students' 
unique version of Word (whatever it might be) would be able to 
adequately read an ODT file created by my LO 6.0.3. However, to date, 
I've never had a problem with an LO generated DOC file being read by my 
students' computers.

So, as Tom suggests, I've come full circle. When I create an essay exam, 
I always save it in ODT format until I'm ready to share with my 
students. Then, I save a copy of the final draft to DOC and send it to 
my students. LO's conversion has really grown over the years, and I very 
impressed with the results. My students then type their answers onto the 
DOC file and send it back to me. It's a very easy solution to create 
and, thus far, has worked very well.


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