Accessible PDF

Set Tab Order

Non-mouse users navigate documents with the Tab key. By setting your document’s tab order, you ensure that when users press Tab, they navigate your page in the way that you intend your page to be read.

To set your document’s tab order:

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Correct Reading Order

Your document's reading order is the order in which a screen reader will read its elements. While Adobe Acrobat XI will attempt to establish a reading order automatically as you tag elements in your document, the order it creates is often incorrect. You must check and / or correct your document’s reading order manually after you have tagged all of your document’s elements. Do this in the Tags panel.

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Tag Decorative Images

Decorative elements (called "Artifacts" in Adobe’s documentation) are elements that should be placed in the background of your document so that they are not read by screen readers. Some example may be borders or decorative bars to separate sections. Some images are put on a page for "looks" and do not have any meaning to the content.

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Add Alternate Text to Images

Alternate text, or "alt text", provide a way for screen-reader programs to "read" non-text information in your document. For example, if you wish include a photograph of a sunset in your document, the image should include an alt-text that states, “Sunset.” Likewise, if you include images of words that are not digitally-readable text (e.g.. a photograph of a stop sign, clipart showing words in thought-bubbles, etc.), the words in these images should also be placed in alt-text.

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Add New Tags to Content

If your headings and text lack tags altogether, you must select these elements and apply tags using the Touch Up Reading Order tool.

Selecting Text and Adding Tags

If your mouse cursor is not already in selection tool mode (“+”), click the icon in the top right corner of the Touch Up Reading Order tool to activate the selection tool.

Activate the selection tool with the icon in the top right corner

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Revise Existing Tags in Content

Headings divide your content into meaningful sections. Heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) help provide structure by indicating which of your headings should be subordinate to which. Likewise, each block of text (tagged ‘”P” for paragraph) in your document must be individually tagged so that you can assign it a place in the page’s reading order. If your document’s headings and text are tagged incorrectly, you can fix them using the Touch Up Reading Order tool.

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Clear Page Structure

If your document seems "close" to the logical structure, you may want to keep what is there so far and edit/add to it.

If your PDF document does not contain tags, or many are incorrect you will want to to select Clear Page Structure to clear the document. This function is a page by page function, therefore you will need to repeat it on each page of your document.

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Identify Your Document’s Accessibility Errors

After selecting Structure Types in the Touch Up Reading Order panel, items that have identifiers on them (tags) will show the structure.

The following screenshot gives an example of what you may see. In this example, some elements are tagged and others are not; some are tagged correctly, and others are not. This is frequently the case when documents are made accessible incorrectly (or not at all) in their native software.

Incorrect elements identified include:

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Open the Touch Up Reading Order Tool

The Touch Up Reading Order tool allows you to see if your document’s headings, images, and decorative background elements are properly “tagged” (that is, marked such that Adobe Acrobat can recognize them correctly).

Opening the Touch Up Reading Order tool

From the the toolbar at the top right, select Tools, Accessibility, then Touch Up Reading Order

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Pages