Why should I make my PDFs accessible?
Accessibility features make it easy for people with disabilities to access content using assistive devices (screen magnifiers and readers, speech recognition software, text-to-speech software, alternative input devices, and Braille displays). An accessible PDF benefits all users by making content readable and more easily navigated.
Characteristics of an accessible PDF
- Searchable text: Assistive technology software relies on text that can be searched and edited. Scanned, graphical representations of text must be converted to searchable text using optical character recognition (OCR).
- Labeled form fields with tab order: Interactive PDF forms should have a preset tab order that allows users to tab logically from one field to the next. Fields should contain accessible labels and be designed to prevent errors.
- Navigational aids: Bookmarks linked to document headings allow users to jump to different sections without having to read the entire document. All links should be accessible through both mouse and keyboard.
- Proper document structure tags: Document structure tags define the reading order of a document and help screen readers present content to users in a logical way. They also make it easier to resize and reflow a document for different-sized viewports. Document structure tags include headings, paragraphs, sections, tables, lists, and other page elements.
- Alt text and tooltips: Alt text and tooltips help provide meaningful descriptions of non-text elements such as images and multimedia.
- Proper use of color: Color alone should not be relied on to convey meaning, and color combinations should have sufficient contrast.
Document accessibility should begin in the native document format
—i.e., Word, InDesign, or another application—before the document is exported as a PDF.
The following can be done in native document applications to support accessibility:
- Adding alt text for images
- Defining structural headings, lists, and tables
- Setting document properties like titles
- Adobe PDF Accessibility Overview : Adobe offers a broad overview of PDF accessibility—its characteristics and how to make documents compliant.
- How to Use the Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Checker : Adobe provides a guide with screenshots on how to use their accessibility checker.
- WebAIM PDF Accessibility : This site features an entire section on adding and manipulating accessibility tags in Adobe Acrobat, including a section on working with PDF forms.
- Scan Accessibility
- Scanned Document Accessibility Adobe
- Images and Text OCRs for Scanned PDFs