Open the Tags/Order Panel

Access the Tags and Order panels through VIEW menu item in the top navigation bar.

From VIEW:

  1. Select SHOW/HIDE
  3. Select TAGS (or ORDER)

Once you have opened the panel in this manner, it will dock on your left toolbar, which also contains icons for pages and bookmarks. The tags panel is represented by at "tag" icon. The order panel is represented by a "4-box" icon.


Final Review

Your document should now be conformant with accessibility standards, but to be sure open the Tags panel to do a final check.


Accessible PDF How-To's

Below are some quick tutorials when working with PDF files in Adobe Acrobat Pro. Screenshots are from the most recent interface of Acrobat Pro (X and XI).


Structure of an Accessible PDF

Visual Layer

The Visual Layer, also referred to as the Physical Layer, is the layer that produces the "look" of the PDF file. It would mirror the document if printed to a hard copy. It is the layer you see when viewing a PDF file.


Quick Checks for PDF Accessibility

"Quick Checks" for PDF Accessibility

Unlike HTML, there are no tools that truly report if a PDF document is functionally accessible. Fortunately, there are some quick manual checks that can be done to determine if a PDF file is accessible or not.


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:


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.


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.


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.


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