PDF Document Accessibility Checklist & Guidance
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is committed to providing content on the VDOE website that is accessible to all. As of January 18, 2018, all new content on the VDOE website must meet W3C’s WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliance. To create an accessible PDF document for posting on the VDOE website, the checklist and guidance provided must be followed. In addition and to remain on the VDOE website, older relevant web content must be converted to meet W3C’s WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliance no later than January 18, 2019. Any web content that is not compliant on that date is subject for removal from the VDOE website.IMPORTANT - Before creating an accessible PDF, consider adapting the information into webpage content. Read Web content options: Word, PDF or webpage? for more guidance on selecting the proper format for your content. Consider the increase in time necessary to create accessible PDFs along with understanding PDFs are the most difficult type of document to make accessibly compliant.
The following checklist outlines the recommended steps to ensure PDFs are ADA compliant. Detailed information about each checklist item is provided in the following guidance section. Our checklist recommends Adobe Acrobat Pro DC but other versions may work as well.
Start with an Accessible Document, Presentation or Spreadsheet
When preparing a file for conversion to PDF, ensure the original Word document, PowerPoint presentation or Excel spreadsheet is currently accessible. Always begin with the VDOE checklists for Word, PowerPoint or Excel to ensure that an accessible file has been created. Then save the file as the new PDF format.
- In Word, PowerPoint or Excel Select File > Info > Check for Issues > Check Accessibility.
- Review list of errors and warnings.
- Resolve all errors and try to improve all warned items.
Enable Tagged Documents
- Select Acrobat Tab.
- Select Preferences.
- Ensure “Add Links”, “Create Bookmarks” and “Enable Accessibility and Reflow with tagged Adobe PDF” are checked.
Enable Bookmarks and Hyperlinks
- Select Acrobat Tab.
- Select Preferences.
- Select Bookmarks in the Adobe PDFMaker dialog.
- Ensure" Convert Word Headings to Bookmarks" is selected.
- Click File > Save As and choose where you want the file to be saved.
- In the Save As dialog box, choose PDF in the Save as type dropdown list.
- Click the Options button and place a check in the “Document structure tags for accessibility” check box and click OK.
- Click the Save button to save as a PDF.
Ensure the PDF Document has a Title
- Open new PDF with Adobe Acrobat Pro.
- Click File > Properties.
- Select the Description tab.
- Modify the Title field to add or change the document's Title entry.
Test the PDF with Adobe Acrobat Pro DC
- Open the file in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC
- Cpen the Accessibility Payne, click Full Check, keep the default settings and click the "Start Checking" button
- If you receive errors you may want to click Autotag Document from the Accessibility payne (clicking this mutiple times may correct errors))
- You must manually test for color contrast violations and logical reading order.
Make a final check on the PDF using a free app called PDF Accessibility Checker (PAC)
- Once the PDF has passed all testing in Adobe DC , scan it in PAC
- If the only error in the report is a missing PDF/UA identifier then follow the directions under the next headling,
Final Step: Add a PDF/UA identifier to show the PDF is ISO 14289 (PDF/UA) compliant
- Open the PDF in Adobe DC
- Click File, then Proprties
- From the Document Properties window click Advanced and then click the Append button to insert the PDF/UA ID (XMP file)
- Learn more on the PDF /UA ID below in the Resources
Provide Accessible Alternative Version
- Provide a Accessible Alternate Version (AAV) of the PDF if there is no other way to make the content accessible. (Example: Presenting an complex Organization Chart as an simple outline.)
- PDF/UA ID Missing
- Free PDF Accessibility Checker (PAC)
- Webinar to How to Make Website Documents and PFDs ADA-Compliant
- MS Office - Create accessible PDFs
- Adobe - PDF Accessibility Overview
- Create and verify PDF accessibility (Acrobat Pro)
- W3C - PDF Techniques for WCAG 2.0
- Check the Accessibility of a PDF Document with European Internet Inclusion Initiative
- PDF18: Specifying the document title using the Title entry in the document information dictionary of a PDF document