This documentation was created using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC for Mac desktops.
Start from the source
Fixing a PDF for accessibility issues can be a time-consuming and arduous process. Start by authoring accessibility best practices in the original document format, such as in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, and then export the file as a PDF. It is much easier to include and resolve accessibility issues in the source document than to try and remediate accessibility issues in the PDF document.
Checking a PDF for accessibility
Can you select text?
If you're unable to select text in a PDF, the PDF is an image file with graphic elements representing the letters on the page, not actual text content. An image-based PDF must be converted into searchable text using optical character recognition (OCR) before addressing accessibility in the document.
Convert to text
Use the Stanford Converter into Braille & E-Text (SCRIBE) tool to convert an image-based PDF into other formats, including a tagged PDF.
- Visit the Stanford SCRIBE website
- Upload your image-based PDF file
- Select the Output Format radio button “Accessibility Conversion”
- Choose the Target Format “pdf-Tagged PDF”
- Enter your @stanford.edu email address
Your converted file will be sent to your Stanford University email address.
Is the document tagged?
Accessible PDF documents will contain a tag structure, that is, a tree-like data structure that represents the content and provides key information for assistive technologies, including:
- The logical reading order
- Document headings, paragraphs, lists, and other page elements
- Data tables
- Images and image descriptions
- Forms and form fields
In addition to accessibility, the advantage of having a tagged PDF document is that documents can be resized and reflowed for magnified viewing and on mobile devices.
Add PDF Tags to the document
A Recognition Report will immediately appear. To view the Tag structure, select the Tags icon.
Note: If using SCRIBE, then a tag structure may already exist for the PDF document.
- Select View > Show/Hide > Navigation Panes > Tags.
- On the left-hand side of the window, the Tags menu will appear.
- The Tag icon will be located in the Tools Shortcut Menu (located on the far-left side of the window).
- In the Tags Panel, right-click No Tags available.
- Select Add Tags to Document.