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SensusAccess: Convert Documents to Other Formats

What is SensusAccess?

SensusAccess is an automated document conversion service that allows you to convert your readings into formats that are more useful for you or easier to work with such as MP3 Files, Word files and E-Books.

You can use SensusAccess to convert:

  • slides and lecture notes
  • scanned PDF documents from Canvas
  • downloaded journal articles
  • pictures of text captured with your smartphone
  • and more

SensusAccess is a great service:

  • if you simply want to make your readings available on the go
  • if you are having difficulties with printed text
  • if you want to experiment with different learning styles (e.g. audio)
  • if you need assistance when reading text in a foreign language

File Conversion Best Practices

PDF and image-based files will be processed using optical character recognition (OCR) to create a text-based version of the document.

  • If scanning the document, ensure the scanned image is free from smudges, dark marks, highlighted text, or artifacts in the image. These will affect the accuracy of the OCR process.
  • Minimize the effects from skewing. If the image is presented at an "off-angle", the accuracy of the OCR process will be lower resulting in a lower quality text version.
  • If you are starting with an image-based format and wish to convert to a text format, you may achieve better results by initially converting to Tagged PDF and then copying/pasting the text into a MS Word document. While you can convert directly from an image file to a text file with SensusAccess, you may find better results for some image documents if converting to Tagged PDF and then to a text file (see "Converting to MS Word and Text Files" section).

SensusAccess will convert image-based documents into MS Word, RTF, and text files. You may also find it useful with some image-based documents to convert initially to Tagged PDF and then copy and paste the text from the Tagged PDF into MS Word. This may result in a better reading experience and may remove non-essential content.

With the MS Word version of the document, you can more accurately "clean" the content for conversion into MP3 audio or for use with assistive technologies. Most conversions will take just a few seconds within MS Word and involve the use of the Find and Replace tools. For more information on using the Find and Replace tools, see Using the Find and Replace in MS Word(link is external) removing special characters in a document.

Please note - in the Find and Replace examples below, replace the <space> value with one space bar and do not include the quotes.

  • Submit the image-based document to SensusAccess and select Tagged PDF as the output option.
  • Open the Tagged PDF and select all the text. Copy and paste this into a MS Word document (Open Office may also be used).
  • Using Find and Replace:
  1. Search for ".<space>^p" and replace with ".^p^p" .
  2. Search for "<space>^p" and replace with "<space>" .
  3. Search for "<space>•<space>" and replace with "^p•<space>" .
  4. Search for "-<space>" and replace with no value.
  • Save the document in your preferred text format.

To clean-up a MS Word file for use with assistive technology or for creating MP3 files, perform a "search and replace" to remove optional hyphens and section breaks. Identify the special character you wish to find in the "Find:" box and leave the "Replace with:" box empty. See Using the Find and Replace in MS Word(link is external) for additional information on removing special characters in a document.

  • Submit the image-based document to SensusAccess and select Microsoft Word as the output option.
  • Open the converted Microsoft Word document (Open Office may also be used).
  • Using Find and Replace:
  1. Search for "Optional Hypen" under Special Formatting and replace with no value.
  2. Search for "Section Breaks" under Special Formatting and replace with "^p^p".
  3. Search for "Manual Page Breaks" and replace with "^p^p".
  • Save the document in your preferred text format.
  • Use Word styles to specify document headings. For example, the style "Heading 1" could be used to identify the title of the document and the style "Heading 2" could be used to identify chapter information. It is best to use only one "Heading 1" to facilitiate accurate conversions into other document formats (e.g., DAISY, ePub, Braille, etc.).
  • Provide short descriptions for content-related images in your MS Word document.
  • Avoid using text-boxes in your document. If you want to customize the layout, use a Column Tool or a Section Break.
  • If converting to DAISY, page numbers will be identified based on the MS Word pagination. To obtain custom pagination, use the PageNumber style from the Save As DAISY plug-in for Microsoft Office(link is external) for your custom page numbers.
  • Use HTML heading markup (e.g., <h1>, <h2>, etc.) to designate headings in the document. For example, the style "Heading 1" could be used to identify the title of the document and the style "Heading 2" could be used to identify chapter information.
  • Provide short descriptions for content-related images in the HTML document.