Document Accessibility

If you do not see the tags icon (looks like a price tag) in your left side menu, you may not have the tags panel activated.

From the top menu, Select:

View > Show/Hide > Navigation Panes > Tags

You should now see the tags icon in your left side menu. 

opening the tags panel


After running the Accessibility Checker you will be given a report. Two items will always show up on the report as manual checks:

  • Logical Reading Order
  • Color Contrast

Use the chevrons to the left of an item to expand it for additional information. Right-click for a submenu that will give you the following options:

Adobe Acrobat contains an Accessibility Toolbox which contains the Accessibility Checker and the Reading Order options box which will aid you in creating an accessible PDF.

To make the Accessibility Toolbox show up on the right-hand column of icons on your Acrobat screen:

It is not that PDF files are meant to be troubling, it is that they were just not made to be accessible in the beginning. 

  • Originally developed (early 1990’s) as an export option, just like a printer
  • Most times, created by scanning a paper document and saving it as an image file
  • Never meant as an editing environment
  • When introduced, the use of Assistive Technology to read a PDF was not widely available

Today, most people who are working with a PDF have received the PDF file directly and face stumbling blocks:

An accessible PDF is comprised of three layers:

Visual Layer

This is the layer you see on the screen or would see if you printed out the PDF. It is essentially a picture of your document. 

A text equivalent (or alt-text) is a phrase, sentence, or combination of these that are associated with a particular image. Here are some tips that may help you in writing Text Equivalents.
Charts, graphs and maps use visuals to convey complex images to users. But since they are images, they provide serious accessibility issues to color blind users and users of screen readers.
When it comes to web accessibility, it is important that all documents that are in the content are developed in a manner that assistive technology can read through them without any issues.

image of bulleted and ordered listsWhen a lot of information is presented, sometimes it is best to arrange it in a list format. Try to keep list items to a length of a couple sentences maximum, emphasizing your point.

Never use the tab key to create or edit the indent for list elements. Use the styling feature in your program.

red beta fish with fins fanned out on black backgroundImage descriptions are known as text equivalents (or alt-text), and are phrases, sentences, or combination of these that are associated with a particular image.