Evaluating and Repairing PDFs

This workshop will focus on incorporating accessibility features into existing PDF documents.  It is always better to build as much accessibility into the source document (.docx, .pptx or .indd) as possible before converting to PDF.  In situations where you don’t have the source document, you can build accessibility into an existing PDF using Adobe Acrobat DC.  Techniques include:

  • Converting an image/scanned PDF to real text
  • Tagging
  • Adding alt text to images
  • Creating headings and bookmarks
  • Adding table headers
  • Checking and correcting read order 

NOTE: Remediating PDFs for accessibility can be an extremely time consuming task. Consider whether the content you are trying to make accessible must really be in the form of a PDF before you begin. For example, if you are trying to remediate a document that was originally created in InDesign and intended for print, perhaps creating a web page that contains the same information along with a link to the printable PDF might be a better option. 


Building Accessibility Into Existing PDFs PowerPoint Slides (.pptx)

Building Accessibility Into Existing PDFs Handout (.docx)

PDF Document Accessibility Checklist (.docx)

Exercise files:

Problem PDF (.pdf)

Lists and Tables (.pdf)

Bad Scan (.pdf)

View individual segments below, or Play All.

Segment TitleDescriptionVideoDuration


Introduction to accessibility guidelines and the importance of creating accessible documents. Note: this introductory material is from the 'Creating Accessible Documents in Microsoft Word' course, but the content is relevant here as well.

Screen Reader Demonstration: Reading a PDF with JawsA demonstration of using the JAWS screen reader to read and navigate a PDF document.

Acrobat DC: Setting Up Your Workspace for Accessibility RemediationAdobe Acrobat has several accessibility remediation tools that should be added to your tools panel for easy access. These include: The Accessibility Tool, the Action Wizard, the Enhance Scans Tool, and the Prepare Forms Tool. You should also add a few icons to your left navigation panel for easy access to the Bookmarks, Content, Reading Order, and the Tags panel.

The Document Navigation PaneUse the document navigation pane to move between document bookmarks, content elements, the reading order pane, and the tags panel.

Using the Accessibility CheckerUse the built-in Accessibility Checker to identify common accessibility errors in your document.

The Make Accessible WizardIf your accessibility check results in a large number of errors, you may be dealing with an untagged PDF. Use the Make Accessible Wizard in the Action Wizard panel to recognize text in a scanned document, add tags to the document, and add alternative text to figures.

Fixing Alternative Text ErrorsLocate and fix missing alternative text on figures, or flag images as purely decorative.

Fixing Heading Errors

Identify skipped or missing headings in your document, or add headings to a document that doesn't have any.

Adding a Table Header RowWhen it comes to data tables, the most common accessibility error is the lack of a defined header row. Without a header row a screen reader cannot correctly interpret the cells in the table.

Checking Reading OrderA screen reader like Jaws will read the document content in the order they are presented in the tag tree, which may not match the visible order on the page. Adjust the location of elements in the tag tree as needed to maintain a logical reading order for users of assistive technology.

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