PDF Accessibility

Creating Accessible Documents in Acrobat Pro

It is always best if possible to start with an accessible source document (e.g., in Microsoft Word) and export to an accessible PDF.  This way, if the document is edited later, the document's accessibility features will still be intact and when the document is exported again to PDF the accessibility features will again be passed to the PDF.

However, if the original source document is not available, accessibility features can be added to the PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.

WebAIM's tutorial on PDF Accessibility makes for an excellent accompaniment these video tutorial.

Create and verify PDF accessibility (Acrobat Pro) by Adobe

NOTE: Modifying PDFs can have unpredictable results, and there is no "Undo". Save often!

Ages 0-3 Years

Installation of Acrobat Pro is only available for Austin ISD Employees.

Acrobat Pro Installation Handout 

This is designed to be a quick introduction to Acrobat Pro installation.

  1. Select the "Start Menu Icon" on Windows PC at the bottom left of the screen
  2. Type "Software Center"
  3. Press Enter/ Return on the keyboard
  4. In the "Availble Software" tab Look for the Acrobat 10 Pro, 10.1.2
  5. If Acrobat Pro 10 is already installed on your computer it will appear in the "Select Installation Status" tab next the the "Availble Software".
  6. After selecting the Acrobat Pro 10 Software line item select the "Install" button at the bottom right of the list.
  7. Let the system install the software. You may need to reboot after installation.
  8. Contact Techincal Support for installation help.

Acrobat Pro Tools for Remediation

Accessibility remediation is the process of bringing your digital assets — such as websites, applications, and documents into compliance with recognized standards of accessibility with the goal of providing a better user experience for people with disabilities.

These tools in Acrobat Pro increase workflow productivity for cross-checking and correcting digital files for accessibility.

Toolbar Options

  • Toolbar: Located on the right side pane, or display it by selecting "Tools" from the menu at the top right of the pane.
  • Accessibility: Subgroup in the Toolbar, or display by selecting the triangle at the top right dropdown menu of the Tools Pane.

Naviagation Pane

  • Navigation Pane: Left side Pane, or select "View" at the top menu, then select "Show/Hide" "Navigation Pane" to display.
  • Once in the Naviation Pane select "Tags" icon, or to display right click mouse and select "Tags" from the dropdown popup menu.
  • Once in the Naviation Pane select "Order" icon, or to display right click mouse and select "Order" from the dropdown popup menu.


  • At the top menu bar select "Edit" then "Preferences"
  • In the "Accessibility" tab option at the left, about mid-way down under "Tab Order" select the checkbox "Use document structure for tab order when no explicit tab order is specififed"

Accessibility Checker and Alternate Text for Images

Acrobat Pro built-in accessibility tools to assist correcting and amending the document for minimum digital accessibility.

  • Correct missing alternative text errors for images

You must have Acarobat Pro to use the "Accessbility Checker" tool. Acrobat Reader does not have this tool function.

Using the Accessibility Checker Tool

  1. First open any pdf.
  2. Select the "Tools Pane" at the right and open the "Accessibility" subgroup.
  3. Select the arrow to toggle the "Accessbility" options and select "Full Check".
  4. Leave defaults of the "Accessbility Full Check" dialogue box and select "Start Checking"
  5. Review the error report at the left in Navigation Pane section and select offending issue to read instructions about how to correct issuses.

Alternative Text

  1. At the right in the "Tools Pane" under the "Accessibility" subgroup select the "TouchUp Reading Tool"
  2. Select the image my marquing over the image area.
  3. While image is selected right click mouse to bring the popup menu and select "Edit Altnerative Text"
  4. Enter text a description based on the content in the "Alternative Text" box field.
    • Alternate text helps describe the image and how it relates to the text surrounds that image.
    • If the image is decorative simply use double quotes ( "" ) for the screen reader to ignore the image or graphic.

Background / Artifacting Graphics

  1. Select the "Touchup Reading Order" tool once more and select the checkbox "Show page content order" if not already selected
  2. Marquee over the image and select the "Background" button in the "TrouchUp Reading Order" dialogue window. This removes the image from the reading order entirely and screen reader ignores the graphic.

Tag Headings and Reading Order

  • Check and assign heading tags to text for document structure
  • Check and reorder content for screen reader logic

All documents require at least one Heading tag ( <H1> )

Assign Tag Structure

  1. Select "TouchUp Reading Order" tool at the right on the "Tools" Pane in the "Accessibility" subgroup.
  2. Marquee or highlight the text to become the heading.
  3. Select the subsuquent heading such as "Heading 1" button in the "TouchUp Reading Order" dialogue window.

Check Tag Structure

  1. On the left sidebar in the "Navigation" Pane select the "Tags" tool.
  2. Once Tag Pane is open the Tag Tree appears. Toggle open and closed by selecting the + icon to display tag structure.
  3. You may change the tag directly in the Tag Tree by double clicking and typing the appropriate heading with this syntax ( <H3> )
  4. The goal is to have a consecutive order of Heading 1, 2, and 3 tags. It is not recommending going past 5 and out of numbered order.

Confirm Reading Order

  1. Reading order is visible by content grouped with the gray bounding box with the order number in the top left of the gray bounding box.
  2. Reading order is highly subjective with designed documents in comparison with top to bottom and right to left ordered documents
  3. At the left in the "Naviagation" Pane select the "Order" tool that looks like a "Z"
  4. Expand the Document Tree by toggleing the + at the top left of the Page element.
  5. Correct the order position by selecting the appropriate page item and dragging it up or down the Document Tree.

Document Properties

Often referred to as metadata

  • Title: Other than file name 
  • Author: Austin ISD 
  • Language: English, Spanish, and more

Accessing Metadata

  1. At the top-left menu bar select "File" for the dropdown to appear and then select "Properties"
  2. The Document Properties window appears. In the "Description" tab section type in the field for the "Title". This can mimic your Heading One tag content, but discourage it mimicing the title of the file name.
  3. Next type in the Author field to be set. We encourage this to be "Austin ISD"
  4. Select the "Initial View" tab to bring up the "Window Option". Select the Show setting by toggling the dropdown arrow and selecting "Document Title". This allows the Title to be displayed at the top of Adobe Acrobat instead of the file name.
  5. Set the language of the document by selecting the "Advanced" tab.
  6. Towards the end of the dialgue box under "Reading Options" select "English" or appropriate language being specified.
  7. At the right side select the "Tools" Pane under "Accessibility" select "Full Check" and run the checker to cross-check the options just setup.

Set Multiple Languages in One Document

Follow these steps to define the language of particular parts within a PDF file using Adobe Acrobat Pro :

  1. Open the Tags pane by going to View > Show/Hide > Navigation Panes > Tags.
  2. Select the foreign language text in the document.
  3. In the tags pane, click on the Tags menu and select “Find Tag from Selection”.
  4. The tag for the selected text will be highlighted in the Tag pane. Right click it, and select Properties.
  5. In the Object Properties dialog, select the “Tags” tab, and select the language of the text from the Language combo box.

Table Summary

At a minimum give the table a summary.

Short description objective

  1. Select the "Touchup Reading Order" tool. Select the table and right click on the table itself.
  2. Select "Edit Table Summary" from the popup menu.
  3. Type in a general overview of the data being displayed. Only 100 words are accepted in the summary and acronyms should be spelled out.