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How to Make Digital Assets Accessible: PDFs

A resource to help you create accessible digital assets for your course

PDFs used for teaching and learning must be in an accessible format so that people with disabilities using assistive or adaptive technology can access the information.

TIP:  The Accessibility Checker checks your PDFs for any issues with regard to accessibility. To learn more, visit Microsoft's website page on the Accessibility Checker

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Microsoft: Create accessible PDFs: Guidance from Microsoft support website on creating accessible PDFs in Office Products.

Adobe Acrobat Training resources: Adobe DC accessibility guides.

Accessibility Guidelines for PDFs

This is an overview of the elements that require special consideration when creating accessible PDFs. Please review one of the Additional Resources for detailed instructions on any of the following:

  • Know when to use a PDF, e.g. when appearance or security is critical. For most cases, HTML or Word is a better choice.
  • Use a version no older than Acrobat 5.0 to create PDF documents. Acrobat 5.0 has new features that are critical for the accessibility of PDF documents. 
  • Tag all documents for easier reading by screen readers and other assistive technologies.
  • Make sure security is formatted correctly to allow for assistive devices.
  • Provide a text equivalent for any multimedia that includes speech or music with lyrics.
  • Include all important or relevant parts of the document as part of the document structure.
  • Follow guidelines for creating accessible documents and images.

PDF Tags

Why is tagging important?

PDF tags support readability of a document for screen readers. Watch the video below to see how a screen reader interacts with an untagged document.

Understanding PDF Tags

Understanding tags, tag labels, and tag structures can feel complex when first encountered. Before jumping into the technical details for how to fix PDF tagging issues, it's important to first understand how tagging works. View the video below for a quick overview of PDF tags.

Create Accessible PDFs from Word in Adobe Acrobat | Adobe Document Cloud

Creating an Accessible Scanned PDF

PDF Accessibility: Using the Accessibility Checker

PDF Accessibility: Tagged PDF

PDF Accessibility: Bookmarks

PDF Accessibility: Headings

PDF Accessibility: Images

PDF Accessibility: Color Contrast

PDF Accessibility: Reading Order

PDF Accessibility: Navigation Links

PDF Accessibility: Lists

PDF Accessibility: Tables

Additional Resources

Accessibility Check

Use these resources to assess whether your documents are accessible:


Email Butler University Libraries
Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
Science Library: 317-940-9937

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