Remediating PDFs for accessibility

The following guide covers steps to remediate PDFs in Adobe Acrobat Pro. If you have an older version that differs from these instructions, a web search will tell how to access the particular tool or perform a technique, and most of the processes described here will still apply.

It is important to remember that Acrobat Reader will not check and remediate accessibility problems.

Making your documents accessible

There are several ways to approach PDF remediation for accessibility. The steps you take may vary depending on your source material and audience needs. You may need to convert a scanned document into a version that has editable text so you can make it accessible, or you may be starting with a document that was saved from a digital source and which may or may not have been saved with accessibility option settings to facilitate accessibility. To help streamline the workflow and hone in on particular needs, choose whichever of the following sections that can best help you achieve your goals.

Making scanned document PDFs accessible

These steps walk you through determining if text in scanned documents can be accessed by assistive technologies and how to perform optical character recognition (OCR) to create editable text.

Setting up accessibility tools and views

For those new to PDF remediation or who do so infrequently, these steps will help you turn on the tools and features that will aid your workflow.

Streamlined method for basic PDF accessibility

These steps will help many assistive technology users. The result is not comprehensive accessibility; some users may still have difficulty using or understanding some of the content. The goal is to improve accessibility for most users in a short time frame. You might consider these procedures to be a minimum baseline when time and resources are limited.

Advanced PDF remediation procedures

These are additional procedures for increased accessibility, where you can learn advanced techniques and methods for handling more than typical textual content (e.g., tables, lists, links, proper reflow and reading order, etc.). These procedures will make the content usable and understandable by a majority of users most of the time.