Accessible PDF's

What is Accessibility?

Accessibility involves how users with disabilities access electronic information and how to make PDF's function with assistive devices used by individuals with disabilities.

Accessibility has legal criteria - accessibility standards include: WCAG 2.0, WCAG 2.1, HHS, and PDF/UA, all of which ensure that documents are accessible and usable.

Laws in the USA, Canada, Australia and the European Union, for example, require state and federal authorities to allow the public universal access to the digital information they provide. Aside from websites, this applies in particular to PDF documents. Although such laws do not always apply to the private sector (or apply only in limited cases), more and more modern businesses are accepting their responsibility to provide accessible versions of both their websites and the PDF documents they provide.

Here are some resources for more information:

Accessibility is reviewed and updated regularly. As it changes, please come back to this page to make sure you have the latest info.

For a PDF file to be Accessible, it must meet the legal criteria standards, in this case PDF/UA.

  • Content is categorized in one of two ways: meaningful content, and artifacts such as decorative page elements. All meaningful content must be tagged and integrated into the structure tree of all tags within a document. Artifacts, on the other hand, need only be marked as such.
  • Meaningful content must be marked with tags and, together with the other tags in the document, create a complete structure tree.
  • Meaningful content must be marked with the appropriate semantic tags.
  • The structure tree created by the document tags must reflect the document’s logical reading order.
  • Only the standard tags defined in PDF 1.7 may be used; if any other tags are used, a role assignment entry must record which standard tag each one represents.
  • Information may not be conveyed using visual means alone (e.g. contrast, color or position on the page).
  • No flickering, blinking or flashing content is permitted, either as effects controlled by JavaScript or as part of any videos embedded within the PDF.
  • A document title must be given, and the document must be set up so that the title (rather than the file name) appears in the window title.
  • The language of all content must be noted, and changes of language must be explicitly marked as such
  • Any pictorial elements – whether image objects or other non-text objects such as vector objects or object groups – must have corresponding alternative text.
  • Laws in the USA, Canada, Australia and the European Union, for example, require state and federal authorities to allow the public universal access to the digital information they provide. Aside from websites, this applies in particular to PDF documents. Although such laws do not always apply to the private sector (or apply only in limited cases), more and more modern businesses are accepting their responsibility to provide accessible versions of both their websites and the PDF documents they provide.

In most Knowledge base documents we would walk you through how we suggest building and exporting files, however, since there are great resources that will be updated often and meet the legal requirements, it's best if we point you to these resources directly.

Adobe has information on how to make PDFs accessible, and check accessibility using Acrobat Pro: Create and verify PDF accessibility (Acrobat Pro)

Adobe also provides information on accessibility for InDesign: Creating accessible PDFs

For more help, please contact Partner Relations by submitting a request through our webform.

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