Check out these and other tips to help make your PDFs more accessible to users with disabilities:
- Save your accessible PDFs correctly
- Make your PDFs accessible with the "Make Accessible" Action Wizard tool
- Frequently Asked Questions
IMPORTANT: When saving a Microsoft Word document as an accessible PDF, there are many options for exporting the document to Adobe Acrobat. Only the traditional Save As... method has been proven to work effectively and consistently when it comes to generating and accessible PDF.
Using some of the quick save buttons in the Acrobat section of the top menu of Microsoft Word have been shown to produce PDFs with incorrect tags or other accessibility features missing.
To correctly save a Microsoft Word document as an accessible PDF in Adobe Acrobat:
- In the top menu, select “File”
- Select “Save As”
- Choose a location to save the document to
- In the “Save as type” dropdown menu, choose “PDF” as the type of file that you would like to save it as
- Select the “Options...” button that appears after PDF has been selected as the file type
- In the “Include non-printing information” section, ensure that “Document structure tags for accessibility” has been checked (checking “Create bookmarks using: Headings” in this section is also helpful if your document is lengthier and has structured headings)
- Select “Save”
The most important step here is ensuring that “Document structure tags for accessibility” is checked. When you make your document accessible by adding the correct headings, image alt text, data table headers, and more, this option ensures that information is carried over to an Adobe Acrobat PDF in the form of tags, which share that accessibility information with screen readers and other assistive technologies. This is the only method which has been proven to successfully and consistently bring that tag information over to a PDF, as other quick save options either export the document as a PDF with incorrect tags, or omit the tags altogether.
NOTE: These instructions apply to the desktop version of Microsoft Word on a Windows PC. For Mac users, select “Best for electronic distribution and accessibility.” This will ensure that the PDF is tagged when you export it.
Adobe Acrobat comes with a lot of tools to help make your PDFs accessible, one of the most powerful of those being the “Make Accessible” Action Wizard tool. “Make Accessible” will do exactly what its name implies – make your PDF accessible. It does this by guiding you through several steps to correct common accessibility issues in your PDF, including but not limited to:
- Running OCR (Optical Character Recognition) on scanned documents
- Adding tags
- Adding image alt text
- Setting document properties such as the document title and language
- Making form fields accessible
- And more
While these fixes may not cover every accessibility issue that may exist in your document, this Action Wizard tool serves as a great starting point for quickly identifying and fixing accessibility issues in your PDF, especially if you don’t have access to the source document.
To run the “Make Accessible” Action Wizard tool:
- In the right toolbar menu, select “Action Wizard”
- Select “Make Accessible”
- Select “Start”
- Follow the on-screen prompts and dialog boxes to correct any accessibility issues as they’re detected
Once the “Make Accessible” Action Wizard is done running, it will produce an accessibility report of any remaining accessibility issues that Adobe Acrobat has automatically detected in your PDF.
NOTE: This tool works best for simple documents. Documents with complex layouts, irregular tables, text-heavy images or graphics, or varying text styles cannot always be made accessible using this tool alone. Even if the Accessibility Check report does not indicate any accessibility issues in your document, a manual review is still required.