Flipping Heck! Learning To Be Productive One Day At A Time

Basic Accessibility Checklist: What To Consider When Making A PDF Accessible?

Illustration of a PDF on the screen of a laptop

Basic Accessibility Checklist: What To Consider When Making A PDF Accessible?

An accessible PDF allows people who use assistive technologies like Braille readers or text to speech to access the document easily. According to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, every electrical communication like emails, digital documents, and websites must be accessible to people with disabilities. Hence, it is vital to make your PDF accessible.

Follow the tips mentioned in this post to make a PDF accessible for disabled people. You can also use a pdf accessibility software to make your job easier.

So what are the most Important Checks to Perform for Accessible PDFs? With the following checklist we’ll help you to take the recommended steps to ensure that your PDFs are accessible.

Tag Your PDFs

For the screen reader to efficiently do its job and read to its users, your content needs to have structures that programmatically determine the text to ensure essential information is conveyed the way it should—for example, a chime indicating the beginning of a new section.

The headers, the images, the paragraphs, and more parts of your content should be appropriately tagged. It makes it easier for technologies made for people with disabilities to scan the text accurately and give proper outcomes for the reader.

Have A Searchable Text File

You have to make your document a searchable text file and not just an image-only scan. If your documents are scanned without OCR (optical character recognition), the assistive technology might consider them as merely large images without selectable text.

Enable Hyperlinks And Bookmarks In The PDF

Long PDF documents should contain meaningful bookmarks and hyperlinks representing sections of the document for easy navigation. People with cognitive disabilities find this useful since they can easily move to specific sections of the document by clicking on the bookmarks or hyperlinks.

Fill Document Title With Document Properties

If your document titles are descriptive enough, your reader will easily recognize what information the document holds. It allows users to quickly identify whether the knowledge displayed in the document is relevant to their needs.

Visually impaired users will be able to differentiate when multiple documents are open. People with limited short-term memory and cognitive and reading disabilities also benefit from this.

Set Tab Order And Detect Form Fields

A user can easily navigate the content logically with the correct tab order. Sighted users can access the logical order of a PDF visually. While for users with assistive technology, the tab order of a document that includes interactive elements like form fields and links determines the correct content navigation order.

Include A Title

Document titles recognize the current location without making users interpret the page content. The document’s title should be easily readable and should convey what the document has to say.

Fix The Correct Language Of The Document

If the correct language is identified in a document, both conventional user agents and assistive technologies can accurately render text. Screen readers can load the correct pronunciation rules. This results in better readability for people with disabilities.

Fixing the language of a document helps:

  • People using screen readers to convert text into synthetic speech
  • People with cognitive, learning, and language disabilities
  • People relying on synchronized media
  • People find it challenging to read and write with fluency

Have An Easy-To-Follow Reading Order

Sometimes, the reading flow disrupts when a PDF file is created through brochures or other documents containing columns, tables, and multi-page articles. Ensure that the reading order is easy to follow and has no issues with the reading flow.

Pass The Adobe And Office Accessibility Checker

You must ensure that your documents have surpassed the Adobe and Office Accessibility Checker. See whether they have complete tags – from start to the end. This is necessary to ensure that the assistive technologies parse the content accurately and avoid crashing.

Add A PDF/UA Identifier

Once you add a PDF/UA identifier, you claim that your document obeys all the structural elements stated in the ISO 14289, the International Standard’s informal name for accessible PDF technology.


Ensure you tick all the boxes off this checklist and make your PDF documents accessible before falling prey to any legal troubles.

About The Author
Emilie Brown works with the Digital Marketing team at PREP, an AI-based remediation software that enables businesses to create WCAG and ADA compliant PDFs in minutes. Her approach and methodology is simple, concise and to-the-point and connects with readers seeking for solution-driven content on topics related to accessibility and remediation. Apart from her time at work, she loves to spend time with her dog, volunteer and play her guitar.
Please Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on these links you will not be charged any extra for purchasing goods and services from our preferred partners however may receive financial compensation which contributes to the running of the site. For more information please read our Advertising & Affiliate Disclosure Policy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Click to access the login or register cheese