Making PDF's Accessible

Below are the common problems with pdf's and how you can make them accessible.



  • Getting Adobe Acrobat DC Pro
    • Navigate to the Adobe website
    • Login using whatever credentials you have
    • Follow the directions to download Adobe Acrobat DC Pro
  • Finding the ADA tools in Adobe Acrobat DC Pro
    • Select the more tools button in the right tool bar
    • Find the: Prepare Form, Accessibility, and Action Wizard tools
    • If the Tools say Add instead of Open, click on Add
Video of the process detailed in the above steps for getting the accessibility tools to show up.
  • Issue: Nested elements are not picked up by the ADA Compliance check, so we have to un-nest them
  • What are Elements?
    • Elements are a tag that either groups other elements together into a group, such as a div, division of a page, or they define what the content they contain like the p tag.
    • <h1> to <h6> defines HTML headings, <p> defines a paragraph, and <br> inserts a single line break.
  • What are nested elements?: Nested elements occur when the tag of one element is inside of another; such as, when you see a <p> tag with an <h2> element inside of it.
  • Select the Tag icon from the left side
  • If you do not see the icon, you can get it by going to:
  • View >> Show/Hide >> Navigation Panes >> Tags
  • Click on specific Tag and drag above of the Parent Tag"
Video of the process detailed in the above steps for properly nesting elements.
  • Images need to have ALTernative Text for those who cannot see/interact with the image
  • Go to the Image Alt Text Best Practices page for further information
  • Select the Accessibility Tool option in the right side panel
  • Select the Set Alternative Text option in the accessibility menu
  • Label the Image and hit the side arrows to go to the Next or Previous respectively
  • Repeat for all Images, if the figure is decorative DO NOT select the box, just write in “Decorative Figure”
Video of the process detailed in the above steps for properly nesting elements.
  • Making sure there is a heading for each row and or column
  • Make sure tables follow the general hierarchy of
    1. Table
    2. Each table row is defined with the <tr> tag. A table header is defined with the <th> tag. By default, table headings are bold and centered. A table data/cell is defined with the <td> tag.
      1. TR (Table Row)
      2. TH/TD (Table Head)/(Table Row)
  • The first Table Row should contain the Table Headers equal to the number of elements in each row. (put empty elements if you have to make the number of elements match)
Video of the process detailed in the above steps for managing table headings and columns.
  • A description of what the input field is
  • An input field is a element on a PDF that is an input box where users can enter text. These input boxes can be identified by using the prepare form tool in the bar on the right side to see the input fields the PDF has
  • Select Prepare Form Tool
  • Right click the Input Field and select Properties
  • In the Properties, describe what the Input Field is for
Video of the process detailed in the above steps for making proper descriptions for input fields.


  • An image that is only text
  • Have the ALT Text state what the text says
  • Example:
    • An image that says “The Oregon Trail” would have ALT Text of “The Oregon Trail”
Video of the process detailed in the above steps for setting alt text of images that are only text.
  • Giving a non-figure tag an ALT Text
  • If you do not see the tags icon in the bar on the left, you can get it by going to:
  • View >> Show/Hide >> Navigation Panes >> Tags
  • Right click specified Tag and select Properties
  • Delete whatever is in the ALT Text Field
    • This will automatically add "" for the alt text
Video of the process detailed in the above steps for ensuring that non images do not have Alternative text.
  • Missing Content
  • Open the Options menu in the Tags section
  • Select the Find option
  • Select Unmarked Content from the drop-down and use Find Next to find the missing content
  • Use the Tag Element button to tag the missing content
Video of the process detailed in the above steps for ensuring that all of the page content is tagged in an element tag that is appropriate.
  • Missing Content
  • Use of an unknown font:
    • Wingdings: ✂ ✇ ✆ ✈ ◆ ⑨ ♑
    • Some Inserted Symbols: € ∑ β ∞
  • Possible Fix: If you encounter this problem, please contact webmaster@alfred.edu for further assistance.