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Bionic reading for PDF files.

New Here ,
Feb 14, 2023 Feb 14, 2023

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Hi, I was wondering if Adobe have a function that makes reading PDF files easier.

 

I have several sight issues, blind spots in my field of vision, dyslexia and astigmatisms.

 

I have found a product called Bionic Reader [website link removed as per forum guidelines], but the app doesn’t convert .pdf files (only .docx, .epub, .rtf, .rtfd and .txt files).What I would like to know, will or does, adobe acrobat have a function like a bionic reader that would make reading easier.

 

Thank you in advance.

Sasha

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Edit and convert PDFs , Standards and accessibility

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Community Expert ,
Feb 14, 2023 Feb 14, 2023

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That depends on what this website does, exactly... Acrobat (and the free Reader) have a built-in Text-to-Speech component, if that's what it does. Otherwise, you can convert the PDF file to one of the formats it accepts (pretty much of all of them, except for epub, are possible), and import that into the application. Exporting to a text file is even possible using the free Reader (File - Save As Text), if you don't have Acrobat.

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Community Expert ,
Feb 14, 2023 Feb 14, 2023

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@sashamag 

Here are the accessibility options. You might try reflowing the text with View > Zoom > Reflow, then zooming in to 400% or so. You can also change the colors in Preferences if that helps.

Details here:

https://helpx.adobe.com/reader/using/accessibility-features.html

 

Jane

 

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Community Expert ,
Feb 14, 2023 Feb 14, 2023

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Hi @sashamag, you're looking for assistive technology (aka, AT) to voice the text on a screen, or to adjust how it is rendered to help with low vision, dyslexia, and other reading disorders.

 

There are two categories of AT that could help you:

 

1. A fully functional screen reader that recognizes text and graphics, announces the file's structure (its tags and reading order), adheres to the WCAG or PDF/UA accessibility standards, and gives you full control over voicing. This category is geared to those who are blind or have low vision. Two products to consider: JAWS from Freedom Scientific https://www.freedomscientific.com/  and NVDA (which is free from NV Access) https://www.nvaccess.org/.

 

Acrobat's free built-in Read Aloud mentioned earlier is a piece of junk. It was developed about 20 years ago, before we had accessibility standards and the concepts of tags and reading order. You'll have vastly different experiences from one PDF to another: if the PDF was correctly made for accessibility standards, it should be ok, but nearly 90% of the PDFs found on the web are not accessible and you'll have a horrible, confusing experience, especially if your vision degrades further. We do not recommend using it because it tends to be a waste of time. There are better options.

 

Acrobat's Reflow option breaks apart a multi-column layout in a PDF, and reflows it into one single column, like an EPUB on a Kindle or other tablet. It also lets you enlarge the text, like professional magnification software. Like Read Aloud, you'll have varying success depending on how well the PDF was made for accessibility. Can be helpful at times.

 

2. Software for reading assistance, often called EdTech because it's commonly used in K-12 and post-secondary education. But I have adult family members and friends using it so don't let "education" sway you. There is a boatload of technologies out there, some free and some paid, and this field is expanding quickly. Do some exploring and join some associations to keep up to date.

 

Most dyslexia software have text-to-speech capabilities. Although similar to screen readers, they don't usually work with tags or have the full features of JAWS and NVDA, but they provide other helpful tools such as magnification, and adjusting the text, colors, and fonts for better readability.

 

Some helpful websites:

Note that several US universities are leaders in this type of technology.

 

Many with dyslexias have difficulty not just reading text but also writing. We recommend speech dictation software, such as Dragon Naturally by Nuance. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/edge/features/immersive-reader  It can also be voice-trained to operate your computer, too.

 

To start, you might want to explore a great technology by Microsoft that is in recent MS apps for Windows 10 and 11 — Immersive Reader. You'll find it in MS Office 365 and Edge browser. www.nuance.com/dragon.html

quote

Hi, I was wondering if Adobe have a function that makes reading PDF files easier.

I have found a product called Bionic Reader [website link removed as per forum guidelines], but the app doesn’t convert .pdf files (only .docx, .epub, .rtf, .rtfd and .txt files).What I would like to know, will or does, adobe acrobat have a function like a bionic reader that would make reading easier.

By @sashamag

 

Summary:

Acrobat itself doesn't have much to help you. A screen reader should be able to work with the PDF itself and voice it. Text-to-speech software can also work directly with PDFs. But it depends on how accessible the PDF is, whether it's compliant with the PDF/UA-1 standard for accessible PDFs.

 

But those who depend on AT for school or work, usually have a few tricks up their sleeve, as well as some alternative software, too. Here are some we recommend to our clients with disabilities:

  • If the PDF isn't being read well enough in Acrobat, then try exporting the PDF to MS Word. In Acrobat, choose File / Export to / Word .docx.  You can now use MS Word's built in immersive reader or any other text-to-speech technology.
  • If the PDF is actually a scan (or fax) rather than live text, open the PDF in Abbyy Fine Reader and convert the scan to live text, and also read it there, too.  https://abbyy.store/  For some functions, it's actually better than Acrobat.  You can also use it to scan hard copies, like printed magazines, books, letters, contracts, etc. and OCR it so that you now have machine-readable text to use in any of your technologies.
  • A good smart speaker can help voice audiobooks and other files, and they can be set up to broadcast around your home and connect to your stash of files. We recommend Sonos models because they have good software for connectivity and files, as well as good sound quality. https://www.sonos.com/en-us/shop/wireless-speakers

 

I hope this helps get you started. Luckily, technology can be on your side!

 

—Bevi Chagnon

Accessibility expert and advocate.

And I hope a fellow moderator doesn't remove the hyperlinks to these helpful technologies as they did in the original post.

 

|    Bevi Chagnon   |  Designer & Technologist for Accessible Documents
|    Classes & Books for Accessible InDesign, PDFs & MS Office |

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New Here ,
Feb 15, 2023 Feb 15, 2023

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A massive thank you to everyone that ha helped me. I am an MA student, so plenty of reading!  I prefer reading over the TTS applications, it's better for quickly finding the informaiton I need.  

 

@Bevi Chagnon - PubCom.com Thank you for all the links and information. I will do my 'homeowrk' to find the right fit.

 

You all have a super weekend and thank you again.

Sasha.

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Community Expert ,
Feb 15, 2023 Feb 15, 2023

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@sashamag, if you're attending school — from K through graduate school — the US requires that the school provide you fully accessible, digital versions of all textbooks and educational materials. Most developed countries have similar equal-access-to-education laws, too.

 

So check with the college's student services / student disability office for help. That's their job!  And they can also recommend different technologies for you, too.

 

Good luck with your studies!

 

|    Bevi Chagnon   |  Designer & Technologist for Accessible Documents
|    Classes & Books for Accessible InDesign, PDFs & MS Office |

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New Here ,
Feb 22, 2023 Feb 22, 2023

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Yes please!! I was just coming to post the same suggestion! It would be an amazing feature to include in Adobe- the ability to convert text in a PDF to bionic text! 

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New Here ,
Jan 11, 2024 Jan 11, 2024

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I agree.  Bionic Reraders are great.  I've just found a Bionify plugin for Edge which seems to work okay, but hope there's a plug in for corporate apps such as Nitro Pro.

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