When we refer to "accessible" PDF files, we are referring to "tagged" PDF files. However, there is more to an accessible PDF than tagging alone. PDF tags provide a hidden structured, textual representation of the PDF content that is presented to screen readers. They exist for accessibility purposes only and are not otherwise visible within the PDF file.
PDF files are not typically created in Acrobat. They are usually created in another program and converted to PDF. There are dozens or probably hundreds of programs that can create PDF files, but very few of them produce tagged PDF files. We use and recommend Adobe Acrobat. A PDF that was properly created using Acrobat usually passes compliance, but always double-check to be sure.
More information on making PDF’s accessible can be found on WebAIM. There is also detailed instructions on creating compliant PDF’s from specific programs such as Word.
PDFs need a language defined, informative title
PDFs need to be marked up with the appropriate <p>, <h1>, <h2>, etc with the program tools (or otherwise converted to html?)
Check PDFs after conversion with "Siteimprove Accessibility"
Make sure security settings of PDFs allow assistive technology
HTML is better than a PDF in terms of accessibility
Check PDF's and FIX for ADA Compliance
Like PDfs, Word documents need to be ADA compliant when linked to on your website and should follow the same guidelines as PDFs and web pages. Below we have included several links that may assist you as you make your Word documents accessible.
- Microsoft Word - An article that includes tips and what to look for while making Word documents ADA compliant.
- Berman Accessibility Ribbon for Word - A free add-on to Microsoft Word for Windows (versions 2010, 2013, and 2016) that will help you create documents that are accessible for everyone and that comply with WCAG 2.0:
Other Documents and Files
All linked files on a website are included and must be compliant. Offer content in multiple formats.
Additional documentation in development