Are your PDFs accessible?

by Brigitte Simard on 3 March 2010

We often get asked about by clients, so I thought I’d also share some thoughts on this matter in this blog post.

Accessible PDFs

PDF files have always been embedded in web pages and that’s not likely to change in the near future. The real challenge here is making sure that the information in the PDF can be accessed by all users, as screen reader and screen magnifier users have traditionally had problems with PDFs. However, screen readers can now read aloud PDF files and they can be magnified by screen magnifiers.

Creating a new PDF

Firstly, you’ll need to make your Word document accessible through the following steps:

To create the PDF you then need to select the toolbar icon:

The alternative way of creating PDFs, that is, printing to Adobe PDF should not be used. This latter method does not tag the PDF document, meaning that all heading information is lost.

After the PDF has been created, you must then check that the document is properly tagged and bookmarked.

Converting existing PDFs

With Acrobat Writer, it’s possible to modify an existing PDF through the following steps:

  • Add new tag
  • View, Re-order, Rename, Modify, Delete or Create tags
  • Update the reading order
  • Add alternative  text to images
  • Convert a scanned PDF with Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

We will follow this post up with a more substantial article in the next couple of months, but let us know in the meantime what your thoughts are on the accessibility of PDFs.

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