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OCR for Canvas (for faculty): OCR for Canvas

OCR for Canvas is a collaborative effort between departmental administrative assistants, Collins Library, Student Accessibility and Accommodation, and faculty to ensure the accessibility of course readings made available to our students via Canvas.  OCR (optical character recognition) in documents supports the principles of universal design for learning.  Running scanned documents through an OCR application is critical for our students who use screen readers or text-to-speech software, and it makes texts searchable for all students.  

Link to OCR for Canvas Request Form

[Please make sure you are logged in to the University of Puget Sound Google Suite.]

What happens after I submit my request?

After the faculty member and/or departmental administrative assistant submits the request, the following occurs:

  1. Please submit all OCR for Canvas requests via the form.  Library staff will quickly check library holdings.  If the material is already available electronically via one of the library's databases--nearly all of which already provide high quality OCR--the link will be sent to you.  If the library owns the print format, we will scan the material, within the limits of copyright law, run it through an OCR application, and perform a quality check, including making corrections as needed. If you are certain that the library does not own the material, you may skip this step and go directly to step #2.
  2. If the library does not own the material, we will quickly inform the faculty member and/or administrative assistant, so that you may scan any personal or desk copies you might own.  You will submit the scan back to us, using the same form, and we will run it through OCR and do a quality check of the results, making any corrections as needed. 
  3. You will receive a link to the folder containing the final PDF(s) .  Please make sure that you are logged into the Puget Sound Google Suite in order to access the materials.  Please upload the PDFs to your Canvas course site, where access is limited to enrolled students, faculty, and instructional staff.  Copyrighted materials should not be posted to the open web or shared via email.  In the case of licensed electronic resources (such as an article from a library database like JSTOR) it is best practice to provide the permalink rather than upload the PDF.  


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the turnaround time for requests?

We anticipate being able to fulfill most requests within 72 hours or less when the library already owns or has access to the materials. (Collins Library piloted a similar service during the 2020-21 academic year and 95 percent of requests were completed within 48 hours.) The public services staff in Collins Library have redesigned workflows for themselves and for our student staff to accommodate this new service.  The process may take longer if you need to scan personal or desk copies for us to OCR and check, but we will work as quickly as possible once we receive the scanned text.

The request form asks you to indicate a needs-by date.  We ordinarily will process requests in the order we receive them, but if there is a high volume of requests, we will use the needs-by dates to prioritize our work.

What OCR application does Collins Library use?

We use ABBYY FineReader, which not only OCRs text characters, but also accurately captures charts, tables, images, and other media.  It recognizes 192 languages, and can accurately capture multilingual documents. 

What copyright concerns should I be aware of?

Copyright and fair use are complex issues.  Please see the library's Copyright Guide for detailed information, including helpful checklists for making decisions in an educational setting.  


Questions about OCR for Canvas can be directed to Nick Triggs, Public Services Specialist, who is the point person in Collins Library for this service.