Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI)

Tips & Tutorials — Creating Accessible Content

How do I create accessible PDF documents?



PDF files are commonly used to provide interactive elements within documents (e.g. forms) or to ensure that the look and feel of the original document is maintained irrespective of what operating system the end-user uses to view the file.

While the PDF file format does provide native support for accessibility, the level of accessibliity provided by a specific PDF file will vary widely depending on a number of factors including (1) the format of the source material (e.g. scanned paper, an electronic document), (2) the amount of accessibility information present in the source material (simple text, structured tables, descriptions for graphics), and (3) the maner in which the PDF file is generated. In general, the most accessible PDF files are those generated from structured electronic documents by applications for which a PDF-generating plugin has been installed. A variety of applications support such plugins including but not limited to those by Microsoft (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Visio, Publisher, and Internet Explorer), as well as Adobe Indesign, AutoCAD, and Lotus Notes).

Support for evaluating and remediating PDF files for conformance with accessibility guidelines was first added to Acrobat Professional 7.0 or later and was enhanced in version 8.0. The tutorials and trainings below provide detailed information on how to author, evaluate, and remediate PDF files to ensure they are accessible for persons with disabilities.

Tutorials and Trainings