Marquette is committed to providing an inclusive and diverse learning environment for our students. An accessible PDF ensures most people can view or interact with your document. Read a more in-depth definition of what makes an accessible PDF.

The best way to ensure your pdf is accessible is to work with the original source document, and ensure its accessibility using the Tutorials and Guides for creating accessible content. When you export or save the document as a PDF the accessibility features will be passed to the PDF.

If you do not have the original source document, accessibility features can be added to the PDF using Adobe Acrobat. How to aquire Adobe Acrobat.

Checking for Accessibility with Adobe Acrobat

Using Adobe Acrobat, follow these steps to check your pdf for accessibility. You can also consult WebAIM’s tutorial on PDF Accessibility for further information about pdf accessibility requirements.

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Does your PDF have live text?

Live text is the most basic form of accessibility, it means the text can be read by a screen reader, converted to braille, or increased in size without loosing fidelity.

Examples of inaccessible pdfs:

Try selecting text using a mouse, or select all text using Edit > “Select All” from the Acrobat menu. If nothing is selected you document dose not have live text and is not accessible. In this situation, most documents will need to be recreated to include accessible live text.

Is your PDF tagged?

Document properties window, last item showing tagged PDF: NoAccessible PDFs are tagged with headings, paragraphs, and tables, aiding screen readers in deciphering the flow of the content. To check if your document is tagged, go to File > Properties. In the bottom left corner of the Document Properties window, find the “Tagged PDF” field.

If No, your PDF lacks this structure, it will need to be added via Acrobat. For a more in depth look at tags visit "Tagging a PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro".

Add tags with Acobat Autotag:

  1. Selecting Prepare for Accessibility from the All tools menu on the left.
  2. Select Autotag document
  3. Review the tags created in the panel on the right.

Steps to Autotag a pdf with Adobe Acrobat

Test for any remaining issues

Adobe Acrobat has a built-in accessibility checker that can identify any remaining accessibility problems. To run the accessibility checker:

  1. From the All tools menu on the left, select View more and then select Prepare for accessibility.
  2. From the left panel, select Accessibility check.
  3. From the Accessibility Checker Options window, select the options as required and then select Start Checking.
  4. Once the check is complete, it displays a panel on the right that lists the accessibility issues. Select each issue type drop-down to view the details and make fixes, as suggested.

Accessibility menus in Adobe Acobat

The report will list items in categories such as Document, Page Content, etc. The report will indicate whether the item has passed, failed, or requires manual inspection. Right-click on any item to see a list of options for fixing the problem.

Reading Order tool

The Reading Order tool helps you review and repair a document's structure. To use this tool, go to the Accessibility toolbar and select Reading Order.

Reading order dialog box in Acrobat Pro

One of the most common complaints from those who use assistive technology is when a PDF’s reading order is off.

The reading order in a PDF is the order in which content in the document will be read to people using assistive technology. This is done with the tags; whatever order the tags are in is the order in which the content of the document will be read.

Fix reading order in a PDF document using Adobe Acrobat Pro


Read more about using the Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Tools.