Moodle: Accessibility File Scan

Moodle's Accessibility File Scan checks the accessibility of PDF files added to a Moodle course, to help community members ensure they meet the College's Web Accessibility and Classroom Instruction Accessibility policies. (Student Assignment submissions and PDFs provided as Feedback to individual students are excluded from the scan.)

File Scan Summary block

The File Scan Summary block on the course page summarizes the results.

Image of the File Scan Summary box

 Accessible — how many PDFs passed all accessibility tests.

 Inaccessible – how many files lack searchable, text-to-speech readable text.

 Partially accessible – how many files have searchable text, but lack one or more of the other key accessibility features.

 File error — how many files the tool could not scan (e.g., due to password-protection or corruption).

Click View File Details for a list of PDF files found in the course and information about what accessibility issues are reported.

Fix inaccessible and partially accessible pdfs

Files that are inaccessible or partially accessible need to be fixed and replaced.

  1. Click View File Details to find out which files are problematic.
  2. You can fix most PDFs using Adobe Acrobat’s Make Accessible wizard.  

Note: Adobe Acrobat is part of Adobe Creative Cloud and available on all college-owned computers. Faculty and staff can also install copies on personal devices.

  1. Exceptions: 
    • If the PDF is a copy of a file you created in another program (e.g., Microsoft Word), it is usually faster to make that original document accessible, and then re-save as a PDF. See Microsoft Word: Create accessible documents and PowerPoint: Create Accessible Slides, for example.
    • If the PDF is an old scan or download of a journal article, first check whether a newer, accessible version is available in repositories like JSTOR or ProQuest. Most have been working to improve the accessibility of their holdings over the past few years.
  2. Once you have a fully accessible PDF, upload it to Moodle and delete the inaccessible or partially accessible one.

Time-saving tips:

  • Replace any copies you store outside Moodle with the accessible versions as well, so you have them for future courses.
  • Consider adding an abbreviation to the filenames (i.e., as “_av”, “access”, “_rev” etc.) to help you identify PDFs you’ve fixed.
  • Bibliographic tools can help you organize and manage PDF libraries. Departments or disciplinary colleagues might use Zotero's group library option to share accessible versions of commonly taught texts.
  • Although Adobe Acrobat’s Make Accessible wizard applies OCR to files that lack text, scans that are highly skewed, blurry, shadowed, obscured, underlined or annotated will defeat OCR algorithms. Finding and rescanning a clean, unmarked original is usually much faster than trying to fix the OCR errors in a bad scan.

File details explained

The detail report indicates when each file was scanned and which accessibility tests it passed or failed using the following icons:

(green check mark) — passed

(red X) – failed

(blue question mark) — file has not yet been scanned or an error is preventing it from being scanned (e.g., it could be corrupted or password-protected).


This column indicates overall accessibility. Files with a (green check mark) passed all accessibility tests, files with a (orange exclamation mark) or (red X) did not and need to be fixed.


A PDF will fail this test if it lacks text. Documents that fail are typically scans of print documents. Scanners only create an image of a page; OCR software must convert the pixels in that image into text that can be searched, highlighted, and read by screen readers, text-to-speech software, and other assistive technologies. Because text is fundamental for accessibility, documents without text are flagged as completely inaccessible.


A PDF will fail this test if the title field is blank or missing from the file's descriptive metadata. Screen readers use this title field (which is different from a filename) to identify documents and windows. Clear and accurate titles helps screen-reader users know which document they are reading and navigate between windows. 


A PDF will fail this test if the language field is blank or missing from the file's descriptive metadata. Screen reader software and other assistive technologies need language metadata to ensure proper text-to-speech recognition and pronunciation.

  • Adobe Acrobat’s Make Accessible wizard will prompt you to specify the document language.
  • Or open the file in Adobe Acrobat and click File, Properties …, then Advanced to edit the language field manually.


A PDF will fail this test if the document has not been “tagged” with structural information about headings and sections. These tags ensure screen readers read text in the proper order and can help all readers navigate within a document.


If you have any additional questions or problems, don't hesitate to reach out to the Help Desk!

Phone: 610-526-7440 | Library and Help Desk hours
Email: help@brynmawr.eduService catalog
Location: Canaday Library 1st floor