I have written extensively about the new features in Adobe Acrobat 9 over the past several months and continue to be very excited with all of the possibilities. In fact recently I have done several presentations with a focus on using Adobe Acrobat 9 for digital asset distribution. As a faculty member, I have found the ability to create PDF Portfolio's indispensable for the work that I do. Now that I am able to embed videos, SWF files, Word documents and deliver it as one unified PDF file it has made my life that much easier for posting materials onto BlackBoard.
As much as Adobe Acrobat 9Professional has helped me, I have found Acrobat to be extremely important in the work that I do with students with motor impairments. For the past several years I have relied on Adobe Acrobat to allow me to create accessible worksheets and documents for students that have difficulty using pencil and paper. Whether, if I am converting a worksheet that was created from Microsoft Word or scanning a worksheet into Acroba,t having the rich feature set in Acrobat has allowed the students that I work with to complete the worksheets on the computer as their peers would. With Acrobat's Form Recognition feature I am able to quickly set up the worksheet without too much touching up. The Form Recognition feature automatically looks for underlines and will place field boxes so that the student can type into the worksheet. This feature alone has saved teachers an incredible amount of time as they set up the worksheet. Teachers can also manually add form fields as well as create dropdown boxes, radio buttons and checkbox buttons for students to respond with. Using the tabbing function the student can move from one field to another quite easily. And lets not forget that Acrobat 9 also supports text to speech which can be enabled within the document which can be turned on from the View menu. Adobe Acrobat 9 also makes it easy for students to zoom into an area without any degradation in the clarity of the fonts. Likewise, students can use the various annotation features built into Adobe Acrobat to markup the document. I have had students use the arrows to complete worksheets that have involved telling time as well as some who have used the stamp feature to respond on the worksheet. All told Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional can provide students with a way to access a worksheet or page on the computer that can be filled out. With the release of Adobe Acrobat 9 it is now possible to have the teacher set up the document and email it home so that the student can access it with the Adobe Acrobat Reader 9. It is important to note that if the teacher wants the student to have access to the annotation features, then when the PDF file is created you must select Extend Features in Adobe Reader.. from the Advanced menu.
While I'm sure the folks at Adobe did not intend to develop an assistive technology tool- Adobe Acrobat 9 has proven to be an incredible tool to provide students with a way to make worksheets accessible on the computer. To view a quick Jing screencast on using the Form Recognition feature in Adobe Acrobat click here.