The process of making existing PDF files accessible consists of a few basic steps using Adobe Acrobat Pro:

  1. Examine the PDF document.
  2. Add document properties and interactive features to the PDF such as links and bookmarks and set the document open settings and security settings so that they do not interfere with assistive technology.
  3. Determine if the PDF originated from a scan. If so, perform Optical Character Recognition (OCR) using the OCR Text Recognition command in Acrobat.
  4. If the PDF is intended to be an interactive document, add fillable form fields.
  5. Set the document’s language.
  6. Determine if the PDF file has been properly tagged. Add tags to the PDF file if it has not been tagged. If the document is tagged, review the tags and be sure to repair mistagged content.
  7. Add alternative text for all non-text elements. 
  8. Check the document with the Acrobat Accessibility Checker. Repeat this process until the checker indicates no problems are found in the document.

Acrobat's Accessibility Checker

Adobe Acrobat Pro provides an automated way to check the accessibility of a PDF file. The Full Check feature (commonly referred to throughout this documentation as the Accessibility Checker) verifies whether the document conforms to accessibility standards. 

To use the Full Check feature, open Adobe Acrobat Pro, select the Accessibility tool and click "Full Check." The Accessibility Checker Options dialog box appears. In the "Report Options" section, specify how you want to view the results. Examine all pages of the PDF for accessibility. In the "Checking Options" section, be sure to check for all of the items under each category in the drop-down menu. Finally, click the "Start Checking" button. Once Acrobat completes the Full Check, the results will appear in the Accessibility Checker panel on the left. 

Below you will find all of the criteria in the Full Check. Follow the links to find instructions on how to pass each item.

Document

Page content

Forms

Alternate text

Tables

  • Rows: TR must be a child of Table, THead, TBody, or TFoot
  • TH and TD: TH and TD must be children of TR
  • Headers: Tables should have headers
  • Regularity: Tables must contain the same number of columns in each row and rows in each column
  • Summary: Tables must have a summary

Lists

Headings