CommonLook Gives Back to Higher Ed with Free Software and Training

This limited time offer is a unique opportunity for institutions who struggle with PDF accessibility and compliance

Arlington, Virginia, UNITED STATES

Arlington, VA, April 12, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- CommonLook launches a unique program that delivers two of their PDF accessibility tools to higher ed institutions in the United States and Canada at no cost. These tools work as plugins within Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint.

CommonLook PDF, CommonLook Office and training on those tools are completely free to colleges and universities for a period of six months. After six months, the institution will have the option to renew the license at the current educational pricing for a single license of each tool.

“With all the challenges that higher ed has had to contend with in the past 12 months, we wanted to give back to the higher education community,” says Monir ElRayes, CommonLook’s President and CEO. “By providing institutions with one free license of two of our software tools, institutions can deliver standards-compliant and accessible PDFs to students, educators, staff and any other parties that communicate with their university or college.” 

The offer consists of the following tools and training:

  • One free subscription to CommonLook’s award-winning software, CommonLook PDF. It tests and remediates PDF documents to ensure they are fully accessible and standards-compliant.
  • One free subscription to CommonLook Office. This plug-in creates fully accessible and standards-compliant PDF documents directly from Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.
  • Free training classes including Introduction to CommonLook PDF webinar and O103-Online training, a self-paced online class for CommonLook Office.

These two tools and world-class training are 100% free. Terms and conditions apply, but there are no strings attached.

  • Support will be provided via online knowledgebase and email.
  • Participants are required to complete 1-2 surveys from CommonLook regarding user experience with the software and training.
  • The program is available to new users only and cannot be applied to existing licenses or renewals.
  • Participants must accept the terms of the CommonLook EULA for each license.
  • Offer ends December 31, 2021.

A full list of terms is available on CommonLook’s website.

PDF Accessibility: What it is and why it’s important

If you have healthy eyesight, all you need to do to read a PDF is open it. Lines of text and images neatly arranged in front of your eyes.

Viewing, reading, accessing and using a PDF is not as straightforward for people with visual disabilities who may not see the physical view of a PDF clearly, instead, they must rely on the document’s digital accessibility using a screen reader.

If public-facing PDF documents published on your website are not accessible, then you have two big problems. First, you discriminate against people with disabilities, especially visually or cognitively impaired individuals. Your second problem is exposure to legal liability, which can strike a devastating blow to your bottom line and your reputation.

In the context of digital media, accessibility requires that an electronic or digital asset is easily opened, read, understood and navigated by everyone, meaning people with or without disabilities. There’s no halfway or percentage that works; it must be 100%.

A Newbie’s Guide to the PDF Accessibility Maze

CommonLook’s executive team has over 30 years of experience and leadership in the field of accessibility providing software products, professional services and world-class training.

CommonLook COO, Daniel Kim said, “Sometimes when a catastrophic event like COVID-19 occurs, important issues like accessibility are put on the back burner. This pandemic devastated our world, but we found a way to fight back. CommonLook is doing its part to make sure that accessibility is never lost, even amid a pandemic. We salute all education professionals and say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. One small way to truly show our appreciation is to provide our software free to all university educators throughout North America. Again, thank you, educators, for all your support and hard work!”

CSU Case Study

PDF Accessibility Tools in this Offer


A professional PDF remediation software that works as a plugin within Adobe Acrobat.

  • Tests, repairs and reports on PDF accessibility
  • Simplifies and accelerates the remediation process
  • Supports PDF/UA, WCAG, Section 508 and HHS
  • Faster and more efficient than using Acrobat for accessibility

Compare CommonLook PDF and Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Features


Generate accessible PDFs from Word and PowerPoint with this plugin.

  • Provide vital accessibility information before generating a PDF file
  • Accessible table formatting for complex tables
  • Fast and intuitive – does not require prior knowledge of accessibility software or standards
  • Lowers the expense of accessibility repairs to existing documents 

Compare CommonLook Office vs MS Word 

Compare CommonLook Office vs MS PowerPoint 

Learn more about this free offer for higher ed.

About CommonLook

Since 1999, CommonLook has been a world-leading provider of software products and professional services enabling organizations to meet their obligations for electronic document accessibility. 

  • 100% guaranteed compliance with WCAG 2.0 AA, Section 508, HHS and/or PDF/UA
  • Used by 50% of government agencies
  • Recognized in the W3C’s PDF Techniques for WCAG 2.0

 CommonLook’s hybrid approach includes document testing, assessment, evaluation and remediation, along with training and support.


CommonLook gives back to higher education with free software and training

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