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Accessible PDF


Accessible PDF s Adobe, Acrobat, PDF Adobe is a company; they are the creators of Acrobat. Acrobat is a tool for creating, editing and viewing PDF files. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Accessible PDF

Accessible PDFs
Adobe, Acrobat, PDF
  • Adobe is a company they are the creators of
  • Acrobat is a tool for creating, editing and
    viewing PDF files.
  • PDF is a format or type of document. It stands
    for Portable Document Format. The PDF format was
    created by Adobe.
  • The terms Adobe, Acrobat, and PDF are related in
    the same way as Microsoft, Word, and doc.

Accessibility Features in Acrobat and Reader
  • Accessibility features in Acrobat and Reader fall
    into two broad categories features to make the
    reading of PDF documents more accessible and
    features to create accessible PDF documents. To
    create accessible PDF documents, you must use
    Acrobat, not Reader.

Accessible PDFs have the following characteristics
  • . Searchable text
  • A document that consists of scanned images of
    text is inherently inaccessible because the
    content of the document is images, not searchable
  • Assistive software cannot read or extract the
    words, users cannot select or edit the text, and
    you cannot manipulate the PDF for accessibility.
    You must convert the scanned images of text to
    searchable text using optical character
    recognition (OCR) before you can use other
    accessibility features with the document.

  • Alternative text descriptions
  • Document features such as images and interactive
    form fields cant be read by a screen reader
    unless they have associated alternative text.
  • Though web links are read by screen readers, you
    can provide more meaningful descriptions as
    alternative text. Alternative text and tool tips
    can aid many users, including those with learning

  • Fonts that allow characters to be extracted to
  • The fonts in an accessible PDF must contain
    enough information for Acrobat to correctly
    extract all of the characters to text for
    purposes other than displaying text on the
  • Acrobat extracts characters to Unicode text when
    you read a PDF with a screen reader or the Read
    Out Loud tool, or when you save as text for a
    braille printer. This extraction fails if Acrobat
    cannot determine how to map the font to Unicode

Reading order and document structure tags
  • To read a documents text and present it in a way
    that makes sense to the user, a screen reader or
    other text-to-speech tool requires that the
    document be structured. Document structure tags
    in a PDF define the reading order and identify
    headings, paragraphs, sections, tables, and other
    page elements.

Interactive form fields
  • Some PDFs contain forms that a person is to fill
    out using a computer. To be accessible, form
    fields must be interactivemeaning that a user
    must be able to enter values into the form fields.

Navigational aids
  • Navigational aids in a PDFsuch as links,
    bookmarks, headings, a table of contents, and a
    preset tab order for form fieldsassist all users
    in using the document without having to read
    through the entire document, word by word.
    Bookmarks are especially useful and can be
    created from document headings.

Document language
  • Specifying the document language in a PDF enables
    some screen readers to switch to the appropriate

Security that doesnt interfere with assistive
  • Some authors of PDFs restrict users from
    printing, copying, extracting, adding comments
    to, or editing text.
  • The text of an accessible PDF must be available
    to a screen reader. You can use Acrobat to ensure
    that security settings dont interfere with a
    screen readers ability to convert the on-screen
    text to speech.

Related Information
  • Check and correct reading order
  • Workflow for creating accessible PDF forms
  • Add alternative text and supplementary
    information to tags
  • Set the document language
  • Prevent security settings from interfering with
    screen readers
  • Check accessibility with Full Check

PDF Tags
  • When people talk about "accessible" PDF files,
    they usually are referring to "tagged" PDF files,
    even though there is more to an accessible PDF
    than tags.
  • PDF tags provide a hidden structured, textual
    representation of the PDF content that is
    presented to screen readers.
  • They exist for accessibility purposes only and
    have no visible effect on the PDF file.

HTML and PDF Tags
  • HTML tags and PDF tags often use similar tag
    names (e.g., both have tags named h1) and
    organization structures, but they really are
    quite different.
  • If you are comfortable with HTML, you will
    probably have an easier time creating and editing
    tagged PDF files.

About tags, accessibility, reading order, and
  • PDF tags are similar in many ways to XML tags.
    PDF tags indicate document structure which text
    is a heading, which content makes up a section,
    which text is a bookmark, and so on.
  • A logical structure tree of tags represents the
    organizational structure of the document.
  • Thus tags can indicate the precise reading order
    and improve navigationparticularly for longer,
    more complex documentswithout changing the
    appearance of the PDF.

Tags Continued
  • For people who are unable to see or interpret the
    visual appearance of a document, assistive
    software can determine how to present and
    interpret the content of the document by using
    the logical structure tree.
  • Most assistive software depends on document
    structure tags to determine the appropriate
    reading order of text and to convey the meaning
    of images and other content in an alternative
    format, such as sound.

Untagged Documents
  • In an untagged document, there is no such
    structure information, and Acrobat must infer a
    structure based on the Reading Order preference
    setting, which often results in page items being
    read in the wrong order or not at all.

  • Reflowing a document for viewing on the small
    screen of a mobile device relies on these same
    document structure tags.

Does the Document Contain Tags?
  • Often, Acrobat tags PDFs when you create them.
  • To determine whether a PDF contains tags, choose
    File gt Properties, and look at the Tagged PDF
    value in the Advanced pane of the Description
  • The logical structure tree appears on the Tags
    tab and shows document content as page elements
    nested at various levels.

Checking the accessibility of PDFs
  • About accessibility checkers
  • Check accessibility with Quick Check
  • Check accessibility with Full Check
  • View Full Check results

About accessibility checkers
  • You can still use any of several methods provided
    by Acrobat for checking the accessibility of a
  • Use Quick Check to check for document structure
    tags, searchable text, and appropriate security
    settings for accessibility. This method is often
    the best way to check for accessibility before
    attempting to use a PDF.
  • Use Full Check to perform a more thorough check
    for many characteristics of accessible PDFs, such
    as the use of fonts that can be mapped reliably
    to Unicode text.

  • Use Reflow view to quickly check reading order.
  • Use Read Out Loud to experience the document as
    it will be experienced by readers who use this
    text-to-speech conversion tool.
  • Save the document as accessible text and then
    read the saved text file in a word-processing
    application to experience the document as it will
    be experienced by readers who use a braille
  • Use the TouchUp Reading Order tool, Tags tab, and
    Content tab to examine the structure, reading
    order, and contents of a PDF in detail.

  • The accessibility checker tools (Quick Check and
    Full Check) can help to identify areas of
    documents that may be in conflict with Adobe's
    interpretations of the accessibility guidelines
    referenced in the application and its
  • However, these tools dont check documents
    against all accessibility criteria, including
    those in such referenced guidelines, and Adobe
    doesnt warrant that documents comply with any
    specific guidelines or regulations

Check accessibility with Quick Check
  • Use Quick Check to examine a PDF to see if it has
    searchable text, document structure tags, and
    appropriate security settings to make it
  •  Press ShiftCtrl6 (Windows) or ShiftCommand6
    (Mac OS).
  • If the document is unstructured, a message may
    appear, suggesting that you change reading order

Check accessibility with Full Check
  • Use Full Check to check a PDF for many of the
    characteristics of accessible PDFs.
  • You can choose which kinds of accessibility
    problems to look for and how you want to view the
  • Choose Advanced gt Accessibility gt Full Check.
  • Select options for how you want to view the
    results, the page range to check, and which types
    of accessibility problems to check for.

  • Click Start Checking. Note A full accessibility
    check can be time-consuming. You can stop the
    process by pressing the Esc key.
  • Consider choosing a smaller page range.You can
    choose to view the results of a full
    accessibility check as an HTML file or as
    comments that are placed throughout the document
    where the accessibility problems are detected.
  • Because the Full Check feature is unable to
    distinguish between essential and nonessential
    content types, it may report issues that dont
    affect readability. Its a good idea to review
    all issues to determine which ones require

View Full Check results
  • If you choose Create Accessibility Report in the
    Accessibility Full Check dialog box, you can
    specify a folder where you want the report to be
    saved. When the full check is complete, the
    accessibility report appears in the navigation
    pane and is also saved in the folder indicated.
    The name of the report file is the same as that
    of the source PDF, except that .pdf is replaced
    by PDF.html.
  • Choose Advanced gt Accessibility gt Open
    Accessibility Report.
  • Select the HTML file, and then click OK. The
    report appears in the navigation pane.
  • Links in the accessibility report take you to the
    location of inaccessible elements in the document
    pane or to procedures that briefly explain how to
    fix accessibility problems.

  • Note If you want to reopen the accessibility
    report with the associated PDF, dont move or
    rename either file after running the full check.
    The HTML file refers to the PDF file with a
    relative path.

  • Create Accessibility Report
  • Creates an HTML report of accessibility issues,
    which is opened in the navigation pane and saved
    in the location indicated by the Folder field.
  • Include Repair Hints In Accessibility Report
  • Adds suggestions for fixing accessibility
    problems to HTML report or comments.
  • Create Comments In Document
  • Adds comments to the document that indicate
    accessibility problems.
  • Delete all accessibility comments from the PDF
    after you repair the accessibility issues.
  • Page Range
  • The range of pages to check.
  • Name
  • The set of accessibility criteria to check. For
    the Section 508 and W3C guidelines, the options
    area includes a Browse button that links to the
    website for the respective guidelines. Select
    Adobe PDF to choose from options for the Adobe
    PDF accessibility standard
  • Alternative Descriptions Are Provided
  • Checks for tagged figures that are missing
    alternative text.
  • Text Language Is Specified

Features for accessible reading of PDFs
  • Preferences and commands to optimize output for
    assistive software and devices, such as saving as
    accessible text for a braille printer
  • Preferences and commands to make navigation of
    PDFs more accessible, such as automatic scrolling
    and opening PDFs to the last page read
  • Accessibility Setup Assistant for easy setting of
    most preferences related to accessibility
  • Keyboard alternatives to mouse actions
  • Reflow capability to temporarily present the text
    of a PDF in a single easy-to-read column
  • Read Out Loud text-to-speech conversion
  • Support for screen readers and screen magnifiers

Features for creating accessible PDFs
  • Creation of tagged PDFs from authoring
  • Conversion of untagged PDFs to tagged PDFs
  • Security setting that allows screen readers to
    access text while preventing users from copying,
    printing, editing, and extracting text
  • Ability to add text to scanned pages to improve

More features
  • Tools for editing reading order and document
    structure (Acrobat Professional only)
  • Tools for creating accessible PDF forms (Acrobat
    Professional only)
  • Though Acrobat Standard provides some
    functionality for making existing PDFs
    accessible, you must use Acrobat Professional to
    perform certain taskssuch as editing reading
    order or editing document structure tagsthat may
    be necessary to make some PDF documents and forms

Setting accessibility preferences
  • Acrobat provides several preferences that help
    make the reading of PDFs more accessible for
    visually impaired and motion-impaired users,
    including preferences that control how PDFs
    appear on the screen and are read by a screen
  • Most preferences related to accessibility are
    available through the Accessibility Setup
    Assistant, which provides on-screen instructions
    for setting these preferences. Some preferences
    that affect accessibility arent available
    through the Accessibility Setup Assistant these
    include preferences in the Reading, Forms, and
    Multimedia categories. You can set all
    preferences in the Preferences dialog box.

Names for Preferences
  • The names shown for some preferences in the
    Accessibility Setup Assistant are different from
    the names for the same preferences shown in the
    Preferences dialog box. Acrobat Help uses the
    names shown in the Preferences dialog box.
  • For more information about accessibility features
    in Acrobat and PDF, visit the accessibility page
    of the Adobe website.

Navigate and control the application with the
  • You can navigate by using the keyboard instead of
    the mouse. Several keyboard access features are
    available on Mac OS see the documentation for
    your operating system for details. On Windows,
    some of the keyboard shortcuts used to navigate
    in Acrobat may differ from those used in other
    Windows applications.
  • When you open Acrobat within a web browser,
    keyboard commands are mapped to the web browser
    first. Consequently, some keyboard shortcuts may
    not be available for Acrobat or may be available
    only after you shift the focus to the PDF.
  • For information on accessibility features for
    navigating Acrobat and PDF documents with the
    keyboard, visit the accessibility page of the
    Adobe website.

Scroll automatically
  • The automatic scrolling feature makes it easier
    to scan through long PDFs, especially reflowed
    documents. You can scroll through pages without
    using keystrokes or mouse actions.
  • Choose View gt Automatically Scroll.
  • Do any of the following
  • To change the scrolling speed to a specific
    speed, press a number key (9 for fastest, 0 for
  • To increase or decrease the scrolling speed,
    press the Up Arrow or Down Arrow key, depending
    on the direction of scrolling.
  • To reverse the direction of scrolling, press the
    hyphen or minus sign key.
  • To jump to the next or previous page, press the
    Left Arrow or Right Arrow key.
  • To stop automatic scrolling, press Esc or choose
    View gt Automatically Scroll again.

Save as accessible text for a braille printer
  • Note This document uses the term braille
    printer to refer to any device that is used to
    convert accessible text to a form that can be
    used by a person with blindness or low vision.
  • You can save a PDF as accessible text to print on
    a braille printer. Accessible text can be
    imported and printed out as formatted grade 1 or
    2 braille documents by using a braille
    translation application. See the documentation
    included with the braille translator for more
  • A text version of a PDF contains no images or
    multimedia objects, although the text version of
    an accessible PDF contains alternative text
    descriptions for such objects.
  • Choose File gt Save As.
  • Choose Text (Accessible) from the Save As Type
    (Windows) or Format (Mac OS) menu.

Reflow a PDF
  • You can reflow a PDF to temporarily present it as
    a single column that is the width of the document
    pane. This reflow view can make the document
    easier to read on the small screen of a mobile
    device or on a standard monitor at a large
    magnification, without the need to scroll
    horizontally to read each line of text.
  • You cannot save, edit, or print a document while
    it is in Reflow view.
  • In most cases, only readable text appears in the
    reflow view. Text that doesnt reflow includes
    forms, comments, digital signature fields, and
    page artifacts, such as page numbers, headers,
    and footers. Pages that contain both readable
    text and form or digital signature fields dont
    reflow. Vertical text reflows horizontally.

Reflowing an Untagged Document
  • Acrobat temporarily tags an untagged document
    before reflowing it. As an author, you can
    optimize your PDFs for reflow by tagging them
    yourself. Tagging ensures that text blocks reflow
    and that content follows the appropriate
    sequences, so readers can follow a story that
    spans different pages and columns without other
    stories interrupting the flow.
  • A quick way to check the reading order of a
    document is to view it in Reflow view.
  • If the tagged PDF doesnt reflow the way you
    want, the content order or reading order of the
    PDF file may contain inconsistencies, or the
    tagging process itself may be the cause. You can
    use the Content tab or TouchUp Reading Order tool
    to resolve reflow problems.
  • If the problem is simply that words dont
    hyphenate the way you expect them to, then you
    can insert special characters to resolve the

Reading a PDF with a screen reader
  • Acrobat supports assistive software and
    devicessuch as screen readers and screen
    magnifiersthat enable visually impaired users to
    interact with computer applications. When
    assistive software and devices are in use,
    Acrobat may add temporary tags to open PDFs to
    improve their readability. Use the Accessibility
    Setup Assistant to improve how Acrobat interacts
    with the types of assistive software and devices
    that you use. When using a screen reader, you can
    change your reading settings for the current
    document by pressing ShiftCtrl5 (Windows) or
    ShiftCommand5 (Mac OS).
  • See the documentation for your assistive software
    or device, or contact the vendor for more
    information about system requirements,
    compatibility requirements, and instructions for
    using this software or device with Acrobat.

Read a PDF with Read Out Loud
  • The Read Out Loud feature reads aloud the text in
    a PDF, including the text in comments and
    alternative text descriptions for images and
    fillable fields. In tagged PDFs, content is read
    in the order in which it appears in the
    documents logical structure tree. In untagged
    documents, the reading order is inferred, unless
    a reading order has been specified in the Reading
  • Read Out Loud uses the available voices installed
    on your system. If you have SAPI 4 or SAPI 5
    voices installed from text-to-speech or language
    applications, you can choose them to read your
  • Note Read Out Loud isnt a screen reader, and
    some operating systems may not support it.

Workflow for creating accessible PDFs
  • At a high level, the process of creating
    accessible PDFs consists of a few basic stages
  • Consider accessibility before you convert a
    document to PDF.
  • Add fillable form fields and descriptions, and
    set the tab order.
  • Tag the PDF.
  • Add other accessibility features to the PDF.
  • Evaluate the PDF and repair tagging problems.

  • Though these stages are presented in an order
    that suits most needs, you may perform tasks in
    these stages in a different order or iterate
    between some of the stages. In all cases, you
    should first examine the document, determine its
    intended purpose, and use that analysis to
    determine the workflow that you apply.
  • Consider accessibility before you convert a
    document to PDF.
  • Whenever possible, think about accessibility when
    you create the source files in an authoring
    application, such as a word-processing or
    page-layout application.

Authoring Application
  • Typical tasks to do in the authoring application
    include adding alternative text to graphics,
    optimizing tables, and applying paragraph styles
    or other document-structure features that can be
    converted to tags. For more information, see
    Creating a tagged PDF from an authoring
  • Note If you intend to design PDF forms, Adobe
    recommends using LiveCycle Designer, which is
    dedicated to the design of interactive and static
    forms. LiveCycle Designer adds structure tags to
    forms, improving accessibility.

Add fillable form fields and descriptions, and
set the tab order
  • If your document includes form fields, you must
    make form fields interactive (fillable) and
    include descriptions for the form fields. Use
    Forms gt Run Form Fields Recognition to
    automatically detect form fields and make them
  • Acrobat Professional has a Forms toolbar that
    provides numerous tools for creating fillable
    form fields, such as buttons, check boxes, list
    boxes, and text boxes. When you create a field,
    you can type a description for it in the Tooltip
    box in the General tab of the fields Properties
    dialog box. Screen readers will read this text
    aloud to the user. You can also use the TouchUp
    Reading Order tool to add descriptions to form

Tagging the PDF
  • Improve the accessibility of PDFs by adding and
    editing tags in Acrobat Professional. If a PDF
    doesnt contain tags, Acrobat may attempt to tag
    it automatically when users read or reflow it,
    and the results may be disappointing. If you
    provide users with a tagged PDF, the logical
    structure tree sends the contents to a screen
    reader or other assistive software or hardware in
    an appropriate order.
  • For best results, tag a document when converting
    it to PDF from an authoring application.
    Alternatively, you can tag a PDF any time in
    Acrobat Professional.
  • Tagging during conversion to PDF requires an
    authoring application that supports tagging in
    PDF. Tagging during conversion enables the
    authoring application to draw from the source
    documents paragraph styles or other structural
    information to produce a logical structure tree
    that reflects an accurate reading order and
    appropriate levels of tags. This tagging can more
    readily interpret the structure of complex
    layouts, such as embedded sidebars, closely
    spaced columns, irregular text alignment, and
    tables. Tagging during conversion can also
    properly tag the links, cross-references,
    bookmarks, and alternative text (when available)
    that are in the file.

  • To tag a PDF in Acrobat Professional, use the Add
    Tags To Document command. This command works on
    any untagged PDF, such as one created with Adobe
    PDF Printer. Acrobat Professional analyzes the
    content of the PDF to interpret the individual
    page elements, their hierarchical structure, and
    the intended reading order of each page, and then
    builds a tag tree that reflects that information.
    It also creates tags for any links,
    cross-references, and bookmarks that you added to
    the document in Acrobat.
  • Though the Add Tags To Document command
    adequately tags most standard layouts, it cannot
    always correctly interpret the structure and
    reading order of complex page elements, such as
    closely spaced columns, irregular text alignment,
    nonfillable form fields, and tables that dont
    have borders. Tagging these pages by using the
    Add Tags To Document command can result in
    improperly combined elements or out-of-sequence
    tags that cause reading order problems in the

Tags Panel
  • The Tags panel allows you to view, reorder,
    rename, modify, delete, and create tags.
  • To view the Tags panel, select View gt Show/Hide gt
    Navigation Panes gt Tags.
  • After expanding ltTagsgt and ltSectgt, a long list of
    tags should be visible.
  • The list can be navigated, expanded, and
    collapsed using a mouse or keyboard.

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Many of the tags are similar, if not identical to
  • below
  • Tag Stands for
  • ltH1gt to ltH6gt Heading 
  • ltPgt Paragraph 
  • ltLgt List
  • Description/Note
  • Similar to ltulgt or ltolgt in HTML
  • ltLIgt List Item
  • Should be nested just as in HTML, which can get
    very confusing.

  • Tag Stands for
  • ltTablegt, ltTHgt, Table, Table Row
  • ltTRgt, and ltTDgt, Table Header, Table Data 
  • ltFiguregt Figure
  • Description/Note
  • Similar to ltimggt tag in HTML

Highlight content
  • One of the first things you should do in the tags
    panel is to select the Highlight Content in the
    Options ( ) menu. When this option is checked,
    selecting a tag should highlight the
    corresponding text, image, or other element in
    the PDF file.

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Find Tag From Selection
  • Just as selecting a tag highlights the content in
    the body of the PDF file, there is a way to
    accomplish the opposite effect of highlighting
    the tag that corresponds to selected content.
  • First, click on the Select Tool .
  • Next, select a portion of text, an image, or a
  • Finally, select the Options menu at the top of
    the Tags panel and then select Find Tag From
    Selection. This will highlight the tag or tags
    that contain the content you previously selected.

Change tags
  • At times, you will encounter a PDF file that
    contains incorrect tags.
  • You can modify these by right-clicking the tag
    you want to change by selecting Properties, then
    the Tag tab, and then selecting the appropriate
    new tag type from the dropdown list labeled Type.
  • For example, to change a tag from ltNormalgt to
    ltH1gt, select the ltNormalgt tag you want to change
    and do the following
  • Right click the tag and select Properties and
    select Heading Level 1 from the list labeled Type.

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Add tags to an untagged document
  • If you do not see any tags in the tags panel,
    your document is untagged, and you will need to
    tag the file.
  • To add tags to an untagged document, choose Tools
    from the right-hand menu, then select
    Accessibility gt Add Tags to Document.
  • This process can sometimes be extremely
    time-consuming, and you will almost certainly
    have to edit some of the tags.
  • Still, it is a start and will probably be faster
    than doing all the work manually. This is
    especially true if the document contains tables.

Evaluate the PDF and repair tagging problems.
  • Once you have a tagged PDF, you must evaluate the
    document for reading order problems, tagging
    errors, and accessibility errors, and then repair
    them as needed.
  • No matter which method you use to tag the PDF,
    youll probably need to use Acrobat Professional
    to touch up the tagging and reading order for
    complex page layouts or unusual page elements.

  • For example, the Add Tags To Document feature
    cant always distinguish between instructive
    figures and decorative page elements such as
    borders, lines, or background elements. It may
    incorrectly tag all of these as figures.
    Similarly, the Add Tags To Document feature may
    erroneously tag graphical characters within
    textsuch as drop capsas figures instead of
    including them in the tag that represents the
    rest of the text block. Such errors can clutter
    the tag tree and complicate the reading order
    that assistive technology relies on.
  • If you tag a document from within Acrobat
    Professional, the application generates an error
    report after it completes the tagging process.
    You can use this report to guide you as you
    repair tagging problems. You can identify other
    tagging, reading order, and accessibility
    problems for any PDF in Acrobat Professional by
    using the Full Check tool or the TouchUp Reading
    Order tool.

Create a tagged PDF from a web page
  • A PDF that you create from a web page is only as
    accessible as the HTML source that it is based
    on. For example, if the web page relies on tables
    for its layout design (as many web pages do), the
    HTML code for the table may not flow in the same
    logical reading order as a tagged PDF would
    require, even though the HTML code is
    sufficiently structured to display all the
    elements correctly in a browser.
  • Depending on the complexity of the web page, you
    may need to do extensive repairs by using the
    TouchUp Reading Order tool or editing the tag
    tree in Acrobat Professional.
  • To produce the most accessible PDFs from web
    pages you create, first establish a logical
    reading order in their HTML code. For best
    results, employ the Web Content Accessibility
    Guidelines that are published by the World Wide
    Web Consortium (W3C). The guidelines are
    available on the W3C website at

Choose File
  • Choose File gt Create PDF gt From Web Page.
  • For URL, type the address of the web page, or
    navigate to the web page location.
  • Click Settings.
  • In the General tab, select Create PDF Tags, and
    then click OK.
  • Select any other options as appropriate, and then
    click Create.

  • Creating a tagged PDF from an authoring
  • In most cases, you create tagged PDFs from within
    an authoring application, such as Adobe
    FrameMaker, Adobe InDesign, or Microsoft Word.
    Creating tags in the authoring application
    generally provides better results than adding
    tags in Acrobat.
  • PDFMaker provides conversion settings that let
    you create tagged PDFs in Microsoft Excel,
    PowerPoint, and Word.
  • For an in-depth guide to creating accessible
    PDFs, visit the accessibility page of the Adobe
  • For more information, see the documentation for
    your authoring application.

About tags in combined PDFs
  • You can combine multiple files from different
    applications in one operation to create a single
    PDF. For example, you can combine word-processing
    files with slide presentations, spreadsheets, and
    web pages.
  • During conversion, Acrobat opens each authoring
    application, creates a tagged PDF, and assembles
    these PDFs into a single tagged PDF.
  • The conversion process doesnt always correctly
    interpret the document structure for the combined
    PDF, because the files being assembled often use
    different formats. Because you may need to modify
    the reading order and tag tree of the combined
    document, you may need to use Acrobat
    Professional to create an accessible PDF from
    multiple documents.
  • When you combine multiple PDFs into one tagged
    PDF, start with all untagged PDFs or all tagged
    PDFs. Combining tagged and untagged PDFs results
    in a partially tagged PDF that isnt accessible
    to people with disabilities some userssuch as
    those using screen readerswill be completely
    unaware of the pages that dont have tags. If you
    start with a mix of tagged and untagged PDFs, tag
    the untagged files before proceeding. If the PDFs
    are all untagged, add tags to the combined PDF
    after you finish inserting, replacing, and
    deleting pages.
  • Keep in mind that when you insert, replace, or
    delete pages, Acrobat accepts existing tags into
    the tag tree of the consolidated PDF in the
    following manner
  • When you insert pages into a PDF, Acrobat adds
    the tags (if any) for the new pages to the end of
    the tag tree, even if you insert the new pages at
    the beginning or the middle of the document.
  • When you replace pages in a PDF, Acrobat adds the
    tags (if any) from the incoming pages to the end
    of the tag tree, even if you replace pages at the
    beginning or the middle of the document. Acrobat
    retains the tags (if any) for the replaced pages.
  • When you delete pages from a PDF, Acrobat retains
    the tags (if any) of the deleted pages.
  • Pages whose tags are out of order in the logical
    structure tree can cause problems for screen
    readers. Screen readers read tags in sequence
    down the tree, and therefore they might not reach
    the tags for an inserted page until the end of
    the tree. To fix this problem, youd use Acrobat
    Professional to rearrange the tag tree to put
    large groups of tags in the same reading order as
    the pages themselves. To avoid the need for this
    advanced step, plan so that you always insert
    pages to the end of a PDF, building the document
    from front to back in sequence. For example, if
    you create a title page PDF separately from the
    PDF that contains the body of the text, add the
    body PDF to the title page PDF, even though the
    body document is much larger to process. This
    approach puts the tags for the body of the text
    after the tags for the title page, and eliminates
    the need for you to rearrange the tags later in
    Acrobat Professional.
  • The tags that remain from a deleted or replaced
    page dont connect to any content in the
    document. Essentially, they are large pieces of
    empty tag tree sections. These unneeded tags
    increase the file size of the document, slow down
    screen readers, and can make screen readers
    present confusing results. You should use Acrobat
    Professional to delete the tags of deleted pages
    from the tag tree.
  • For more information, see Create merged PDFs and
    PDF packages.

TouchUp Reading Order
  • The TouchUp Reading Order tool allows a user to
    quickly add and edit PDF tags and view the
    reading order of elements on the page.
  • Although it can speed up the tagging process, it
    does not take the place of the other tools
    mentioned previously.
  • To use the TouchUp Reading Order tool, select
    Tools from the right-hand menu, then select
    Accessibility gt TouchUp Reading Order.
  • When this feature is selected, the view on the
    screen changes. All of the content is enclosed in
    numbered boxes.
  • Each of these boxes represent a tag and the
    number corresponds with the tag number in the
    Order panel. The TouchUp Reading Order window
    will also open.

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  • You will notice a group of buttons with the names
    of several common tags. You can use these buttons
    to assign tags to a selected block of text or an
  • TouchUp Reading Order is not perfect. Selecting
    text is difficult and many tags are not
    supported. It is also somewhat difficult to
    assign alternate text to images. Still, it is
    easier to mark up a PDF file using this feature
    than any other way

Adding/Changing tags
  • There are two ways to select an area of text,
    image, table, or other element using TouchUp
    Reading Order.
  • Drag a box around an element using the crosshairs
    that have replaced the default pointer.
  • It is sometimes difficult to select exactly the
    right area, but it is a little easier if you try
    drawing a box that is slightly larger than the
  • Once you have selected a new element, you can
    assign some of the most common tags to that
    element by clicking on one of the several

  • You can also select everything within a box by
    clicking on the number in the top-left corner.
  • Now that you have selected the text, you can
    assign a tag by clicking on the corresponding
  • Once you select a button, Acrobat will place the
    selected content in the appropriate tag. If you
    have the Tags panel open, you can view these
    changes instantly.
  • While in TouchUp Reading Order, you can also
    assign alternate text to images by Right-clicking
    on the image and choosing Edit Alternate Text.

Button Adobe Tag Additional Information
Text ltPgt  
Form Field ltFormgt  
Heading 1 ltH1gt  
Heading 2 ltH2gt  
Heading 3 ltH3gt  
Figure ltFiguregt  
Button Adobe Tag Additional Information
Figure/Caption ltFiguregt ltCaptiongt If you select the image and the nearby caption image will be tagged as a figure and the text will be tagged as its caption.
Table ltTablegt, ltTRgt, ltTHgt, and ltTDgt Acrobat attempts to assign rows, columns, and headings. Sometimes it does this correctly, but this should still be checked with the table inspector.
Cell ltTDgt Can be used to merge cells if they are incorrectly split.
Formula ltFormulagt  
Background none Also called an artifact, this will hide an item completely from a screen reader.
Add other accessibility features to the PDF.
  • This stage includes setting the document
    language, making sure that security settings
    dont interfere with screen readers, creating
    accessible links, and adding bookmarks.

The Creation of PDFs
  • PDF files are not typically created in Acrobat.
    They are usually created in another program and
    converted to PDF.
  • There are dozens or probably hundreds of programs
    that can create PDF files, but very few of them
    produce tagged PDF files.

Applications to Create Accessible PDFs
  • If you are using Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, Writer, or Adobe tools such as
    InDesign, you can often create accessible, tagged
    PDF files without opening Acrobat.
  • Of course, the accessibility of the PDF depends
    on the accessibility of the original document.

MS Word
  • The majority of the PDF files on the web were
    probably created in Microsoft Word. The good news
    is that it is possible to create accessible PDF
    files in Office, as long as the following
    requirements are met
  • The file must be accessible. That includes
    providing alternative text for images, proper
    headings, appropriate link text, etc. For more
    information, read our tutorial on Microsoft Word.

  • Office 2000-2003 users must have Acrobat
    installed, as well as the add-in. Office 2007
    users must have either Acrobat or the Microsoft
    PDF add-in installed. Office 2010 users can
    create tagged PDF files natively or with the
    Adobe add-in.
  • The file must be exported correctly. If a file is
    created by printing to PDF, it will not be
    correctly tagged.

In MS-Word 2007
  • Before you save the file, select Options and
    ensure that the Document structure tags for
    accessibility option is selected.

Or you can select Create PDF from the Acrobat
The program should create a tagged PDF file by
default. If this is not the case select Adobe PDF
conversion options and ensure that Create
Accessible (Tagged) PDF file is selected
Word 2000-2003
  • When you install Adobe Acrobat, an add-in for
    Microsoft Office is installed by default. The
    add-in allows you to convert Office files to PDF
    without opening Acrobat. This add-in also
    installs an Adobe PDF menu, which should appear
    in the Menu bar.
  • To convert a Word Document to PDF, Select Adobe
    PDF gt Convert to Adobe PDF.
  • If your document is correctly structured, this
    should automatically create a tagged PDF. To
    ensure that files are being converted correctly,
    go to Adobe PDF gt Change Conversion Settings and
    ensure Enable Accessibility and Reflow with
    tagged Adobe PDF is selected.

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Convert to PDF in Acrobat
  • If you are having trouble converting a document
    to tagged PDF in Office, or if you want to merge
    multiple documents into one tagged PDF file, you
    can convert a file to PDF in Acrobat.
  • There are several ways to do this one of the
    easiest is to select File gt Create PDF gt From
    File (in Acrobat X, File gt Create gt PDF From
  • If the file format is supported (i.e. the file is
    created in a Microsoft or Adobe product), the
    file should be tagged as it is converted.
  • If no tags are present, select Edit gt Preferences
    gt Convert to PDF, choose the correct format,
    select Conversions Settings, and ensure that
    Enable accessibility and reflow is selected.

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Order Panel
  • The order panel allows you to change the reading
    order of the content on the page so it matches
    the visual reading order. To open the Order
    panel, select or View gt Show/Hide gt Navigation
    Panes gtOrder or select Show Order Panel in the
    TouchUp Reading Order tool.

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  • At first glance, it resembles the Tags panel, but
    there are a few differences.
  • The document is divided into pages.
  • Each element is numbered, and the numbers start
    over on each page.
  • There is no hierarchy of elements everything is
    on the same level.
  • These differences help make the Order panel a
    much easier way to reorder tags. To change the
    reading order of an element, just click and drag
    the tag to the location that reflects the correct
    reading order. This new order will be reflected
    in the Tags panel and when the document is viewed
    in Reflow mode.

Alternative text
  • The easiest way to add alternative text is with
    the TouchUp Reading Order tool. When an image is
    tagged as an image (or figure), the alternative
    text will appear next to the image. If it has no
    alternative text, the caption will read "Figure -
    No alternate text exists."

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  • To add alternative text, Right click on the image
    and select Edit Alternate Text. Enter the
    appropriate alternative text in the dialog box.

Table Inspector
  • The Table Inspector allows you to easily identify
    and assign scope to table headers.
  • With the TouchUp Reading Order tool open, select
    a table and then select Table Inspector. You can
    now select table cells that should be headers.
    Right click on a selected cell or cells and
    choose Table Cell Properties. A dialog box will

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  • If the selected cell(s) needs to be tagged as a
    header, select the Header Cell option and assign
    a scope of either Row or Column. After selecting
    OK, you will notice that the table header cells
    will be highlighted in red and the data cells
    will be highlighted in gray.

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  • Artifacts are elements that are ignored by a
    screen reader, much like an image with empty
    alternative text in HTML is ignored. Important
    text should never be labeled as an artifact. As
    with alternative text, the easiest way to change
    an element to or from an artifact is with the
    TouchUp Reading Order tool. Select the element
    and press the Background button to make it an
  • To search for artifacts, go to the Tags panel and
    select Options gt Find. A window will appear with
    several search options. Artifact is the default
    search, so click Find. If there are any
    artifacts, the search will identify them and
    allow you to change them to other elements.
  • To change a tag to an artifact in the tags panel,
    right click on the item and select Change Tag to

Some of the main requirements for preparing
accessible PDFs
  • When a paper document is scanned to create a PDF
    the resulting file is a PDF Image Only file -
    that is, bitmap pictures of the pages. Although
    the page can be viewed with Acrobat, the content
    cannot be recognised by screen readers and so is
    not accessible.
  • To make a PDF Image Only file accessible the
    document needs to be "captured" using Adobe
    Acrobat Capture 3 or the paper capture facility
    provided with Acrobat 6 and a tagged PDF file
    created http//
  • Text files such as documents generated by word
    processing or desktop publishing software are the
    most suitable for making accessible PDFs.

Tagged Documents
  • Accessible documents must be in the tagged PDF
    format and this is easiest to do with documents
    generated with Microsoft Office 2000 or higher.
  • If you are not using Microsoft Office it may be
    necessary to download the 'Make Accessible
    Plug-in' from the Adobe website for Acrobat 5,
    use the automatic tagging facility in Acrobat 6
    and perhaps create some of the tags by hand.
  • Word 2000 lets you create tagged Adobe PDF files.
    However the Word document must be well marked up
    and use styles to format text such as headings
    and paragraphs. That is, not by highlighting a
    piece of text and using the font and bold options
    to change its look.

  • Also, use styles to provide structure to the
    document. Use the "spacing before" and "spacing
    after" paragraph properties rather than the enter
    (return) key to add space between paragraphs.
  • Use the Column command in Word to create columns
    and the Insert Table or Draw Table tool to create
  • Add alternative text to all images. In Word you
    can add descriptive text via the Web tab of the
    pictures Properties dialogue box within the
    Format menu.
  • All the parts of a composite image should be
    grouped using the Group command.
  • Use the Acrobat Tags palette and the forms tool
    to create accessible electronic PDF forms.

Untagged PDF files
  • Untagged PDF files such as those created with
    Acrobat 4 (and earlier) can be converted into
    accessible (tagged) PDF with the 'Make
    Accessible' plug-in developed for Acrobat 5 or
    from within Acrobat 6. Tagged files created in
    this way should always be checked with a screen
    reader for reading order and content sense as
    well as accessibility.
  • Information about the 'Make Accessible' plug-in
    and download are available at http//
  • When information is provided via a PDF, the link
    to the document should include a short summary of
    the information it contains, an indication of the
    document size in KB file size and page number and
    an estimated download time at 56 kbps.

Is PDF Accessibility Still An Issue?
  • The short answer is YES
  • The commitment Adobe has made to improving the
    accessibility of PDFs has been widely recognised
    by disability groups and accessibility advocates
    and has directly benefited many users of
    assistive technologies.
  • The general opinion of the accessibility
    community world wide however, is that the use of
    PDFs on Websites still presents a significant
    barrier for people with disabilities, in
    particular for sight impaired Web users who rely
    on screen reader technology.
  • In Australia, the Human Rights and Equal
    Opportunity Commission has indicated that the use
    of PDF documents on Websites is still a
    significant accessibility issue.

Areas of Concern 1
  • The use of PDF documents on Websites raise five
    possible areas of concern
  • Legacy documents. PDF documents generated with
    early versions of Acrobat that are not accessible
    and have not been converted into more accessible
    PDFs. In cases where these legacy documents are
    no longer relevant the simplest solution to this
    problem is their removal from the site.
  • Scanned documents. PDF Image Only files created
    by scanning an existing printed document are
    often very hard to make accessible.
  • Unused accessibility enhancements. The enhanced
    accessibility of PDFs generated with recent
    versions of Adobe Acrobat is only achievable when
    the accessibility features are used

More areas of Concern 2
  • Lack of accessible PDF support by all operating
    systems. Currently full accessibility support is
    only available for 32-bit Windows environments.
  • Variable assistive technology support for PDFs.
    Accessibility of PDFs by assistive technologies
    depends on the manufacturers of those
    technologies incorporating PDF support into their
    products. Several manufacturers have done this
    with recent versions of their products, but for
    the many users of earlier versions of the
    technology PDFs will remain inaccessible.
  • In 2004, the use of PDFs can still cause
    accessibility problems for some Web users.
    However over the next few years, the extent of
    this problem is likely to diminish as older PDFs
    are removed from Websites, more accessible PDFs
    are produced and an increasing number of
    assistive technology users upgrade their devices.

Alternatives for PDF Content
  • PDFs are a non-standard W3C format that requires
    the Acrobat browser plug-in to access the
    information contained in the document. Even
    though recent advances mean that it is now
    possible to create a PDF document that can be
    accessed by a greater number of people, PDFs
    should not be considered accessible in terms of
    the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
  • Accessibility enhanced PDFs still can't be
    accessed by a range of web users including
  • People who are unable to install the Acrobat
    reader software.
  • People with slow connection speeds who are not
    willing to install Acrobat.
  • People who use operating systems and browsers
    that do not support PDF.
  • People with assistive technology versions that do
    not support PDF.

If it cannot be done
  • "If after best efforts, you cannot create an
    accessible page, provide a link to an alternative
    page that uses W3C technologies, is accessible,
    has equivalent information (or functionality),
    and is updated as often as the inaccessible
    (original) page."WCAG Checkpoint 11.4 In most
    cases, the text information contained in a PDF
    was originally generated in some other format,
    commonly MS Word or Excel. This original source
    material can be used (and where necessary
    modified) to create an equivalent alternative for
    the information provided in the PDF
  • The ideal accessible alternative for content
    provided in a PDF file is an equivalent HTML page
    that is both valid and accessible.

  • Where a HTML alternative is not possible, the
    information should be provided in text format
    (RTF) and failing this as a Word or Excel
    document. In these cases, descriptions should be
    provided for information conveyed via charts,
    graphs and images.
  • Where it is not possible to provide an accessible
    online alternative for some content, for example
    a complex form or detailed geographic map,
    contact details such as a phone number and/or
    email address should be provided so that someone
    who is unable to access the PDF can still obtain
    the information in contains.

References and Additional Information
  • Maximum Accessibility Making Your Web Site More
    Usable for Everyone. John Slatin and Sharron
    Rush, 2003. Addison-Wesley, Boston.
  • Adobe Acrobat Solutions for Accessibility. Adobe
  • How to Create Accessible Adobe PDF Files. Adobe
  • Is PDF Accessible? AccessIT (National Center on
    Accessible Information Technology in Education,
    University of Washington)
  • Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Techniques. WebAim
  • Quick reference for Adobe Acrobat 5.0 and 6.0.
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Accessibility of PDF Documents. Jim Byrne, MCU
    Accessible web design consultancy.
  • PDF and Public Documents A White Paper, Janina
    Sajka and Joe Roeder. American Foundation for the
  • World Wide Web Access Disability Discrimination
    Act Advisory Notes. Australian Human Rights and
    Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC)

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