How to tag a PDF for accessibility

This video tutorial is about tagging PDF files for accessibility. Tagging creates a document structure that allows for screen readers to read PDFs aloud in the correct order, and also to allow a mobile device to reflow and display the file on small viewports.

Accurate subtitles are provided in the video above. Use the CC button.

PDFs in a perfect world

If you have been asked to post PDFs to the web for your job, or if you’re creating your own content, please at least be sure to tag for accessibility at the same time you set up the search engine metadata and the open settings. In the best case scenario, your original file would have alt text embedded in all the images, all the imported logos in the PDF would be of the correct file type so they don’t corrupt the tagged file, and the reading order would already be specified.

PDFs corrupt sometimes

But, sometimes I’ve come across PDF files that corrupt when I add tagging. You’ll see something is wrong when you open the tagged file and your charts and graphs are missing huge chunks, or entire logos disappear. If I can’t track down the original asset to re-embed the image so it shows up after tagging, then, unfortunately, I skip the tagging step at that point.

Many official documents or archived documents are actually scans of a paper copy. This is a problem in the government sector because the PDF would have no recognizable text in it…it’s just an embedded image. Luckily, Acrobat Pro has an OCR function that does a great job of recognizing text and even straightening crooked scans.

I hope this was a good general introduction to preparing PDFs for the web. For tons more information on this topic, please start a trial on using the following link. There is a class called Creating Accessible PDFs with Acrobat DC and it goes in-depth into accessible PDFs.